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“The mind games have started”: Mikel Arteta gives Antonio Conte a taste of his own medicine with a cryptic update.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur embraces Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has emulated Antonio Conte’s coy press conference by delivering a cryptic update of his own on Arsenal’s injured players ahead of this weekend’s clash with Tottenham.

Arteta has refused to be drawn on the status of three key player, just 24 hours after Antonio Conte did the same. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Gunners head into this weekend’s north London derby sitting top of the Premier League after an impressive start to the season, but they are only one point above their unbeaten neighbours.

A number of fitness worries have emerged for Arsenal in recent weeks. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been working on his fitness at the club’s London Colney base and did not join up with the Ukraine national team after missing the 3-0 win over Brentford prior to the international break, while Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney both picked up issues during their time away with Ghana and Scotland respectively.

When he was asked if Partey, Tierney and Zinchenko would be in Arsenal’s matchday squad, Arteta simply replied: “They are part of the team.”

Arteta’s response was similar to Conte’s own remarks in his pre-match press conference. When he was asked for an update on some of Tottenham’s key players, Conte responded: “Honestly I don’t want to speak about the injury because I don’t want to give advantage to Arsenal, yeah?

“But for sure we have to face some problems, some physical problems and we have to know also that we have just started to play the first game in a run that we have to play 13 days in 43 days.

“For sure we have to try to make the best solution and to try not to take big risks because if we take big risks and lose players for the rest of the games, it will be a disaster. I repeat to play every three days I need to count on the whole squad and we try with the players to also make the best decision.”

The North London derby is always a huge occasion, but Saturday’s meeting between Arsenal and Tottenham is shaping up to be even bigger than normal.

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