Arsenal’s misfiring captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been ruled out of the Premier League game with Everton on account of injury.
Aubameyang has been a shining light in recent seasons for the Gunners, but his form has dipped this term.
He snapped a five-game goalless run in the 1-1 draw with Southampton on Wednesday, but his hopes of kicking on against the Toffees at Goodison Park on Saturday have been derailed by a calf strain. Rob Holding will take over the captaincy in Aubameyang's absence.
Arsenal fought back from a goal down against the Saints and had to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men.
After the game, manager Mikel Arteta said his players were disappointed with the result but happy with how they dug in.
“We had a disappointment of not winning the game, but at the same time I think the players realise that with the difficulty of playing 35 minutes with 10 men, a draw was probably a result we had to take and they could see some positives as well in the resilience and attitude they showed to hang on for that result,” he said.
Looking ahead to the game with Everton, Arteta added: “It is always really tough to go to Goodison, I played there and know them really well. They are teams in two different moments but we are preparing the game to go there and beat them, because we need a result.”
Commenting on Aubameyang’s status, Arteta told Sky Sports: “He has a small muscle injury and will be out for a few days.
“We will assess him and see how he is but he could not be fit for today.”
Aubameyang provided an update on Instagram, saying: “Hopefully it is not going to take long to recover.”
A positive for Arsenal is the return to fitness of Gabriel Martinelli, with the Brazil forward returning to the squad for what could be his first appearance of the season.
The Gunners entered the weekend in 15th place in the Premier League, a mere five points above the relegation places.
Arteta’s Gunners are winless in the Premier League since a 1-0 victory at Manchester United on November 1 - with those three points secured via a penalty from Aubameyang.
Since the win at Old Trafford, Arsenal have been beaten by Aston Villa, Wolves, Tottenham and Burnley - and drawn with Leeds and Southampton.
Following the game with Everton, Arsenal face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup and Chelsea in the Premier League, either side of Christmas Day.