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Scans have shown the Spanish midfielder has suffered thigh damage that could keep him out of the Champions League play-off against Fenerbahce as well as the north London derby

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief correspondent

Arsenal have suffered a huge blow ahead of the new season after Mikel Arteta picked up a thigh injury that could keep him out for up to a month, Goal can reveal.

The Spaniard broke down in training earlier this week and scans have now shown there is significant damage to his thigh muscle.

The injury is expected to keep Arteta on the sidelines for between three and four weeks, ruling him out of the crucial two-legged Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce and the Premier League matches against Aston Villa, Fulham and north London rivals Tottenham.

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Arsene Wenger revealed on Thursday morning that Arteta was struggling to be fit for Saturday’s curtain-raiser against Villa.

“Mikel has a slight thigh problem," Wenger told the club's official website. We have to check that. I don’t know if he will be out for the weekend. He has a scan today.”

Goal has subsequently learned that the injury is worse than originally feared, which is a major blow to Wenger as he steps up his preparations for the new campaign.

However, there is better news for Arsenal regarding the fitness of Aaron Ramsey, who is expected to line up against Villa despite pulling out of Wales’ match on Wednesday with an ankle injury.

Nonetheless, there will be even greater pressure on Wenger to make new signings and reinforce a squad that is already missing club captain Thomas Vermaelen until mid-October with a back injury.

Arteta has been virtually an ever-present in the Arsenal midfield since joining from Everton in August 2011 and would have been expected to lead the team in Vermaelen’s absence this weekend.

Arsenal have tried to beef up their midfield this summer by making bids for Marouane Fellaini and Luiz Gustavo but have not yet made any senior signings despite having £100m to spend.

The Gunners have agreed a £17.2 million fee with Bayern Munich for Gustavo but reports in Germany on Wednesday claimed the Brazil international has turned down the Londoners in favour of a move to Wolfsburg.

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