The Norwegian playmaker was a surprise absentee from the team sheet (Picture: Getty)
The Norwegian playmaker has been managing a small issue over the past few weeks and was rested against Sheffield United in last weekend’s thumping 5-0 victory at the Emirates.
He did not start in the midweek defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup but did come on for the final 10 minutes, netting the Gunners’ late consolation goal.
Arteta had been happy to see his skipper get some productive minutes against the Hammers and he was spotted in training on Friday, with no suggestions at that stage that he would miss the trip to St James’ Park.
But he was surprisingly absent from the team sheet on Saturday evening, with Kai Havertz picked to start in the advanced midfield role instead, with Arsenal simply saying that he ‘was not fit for today’s squad’.
Arteta has given little away on the exact nature of the issue but believes it offers a chance for the likes of Havertz to make an impression.
Speaking to Sky Sports before kick-off, he said: ‘Unfortunately he’s not available, he’s not fit and we could not play him.
‘He’s our captain and a really important player, but it’s an opportunity for another one to stand up and have a great performance as well.’
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The Norwegian playmaker was a surprise absentee from the team sheet.