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The Gunners face a midfield dilemma ahead of Sunday's North London Derby, with suspension, illness and international duty depleting Arteta's side.

thomas partey and mohamed elneny are away at the africa cup of nations.

Patino could be a candidate to start alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga in the middle, having done so in the FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest, but former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged caution in Arteta's treatment of the youngster.

'He felt something in the last minutes, he was really fatigued,' Arteta told reporters at his post-match press conference.

"I don't know.

He ’ s a young boy and he recovers really quickly.

But he ’ s played a lot of minutes in the last few months so let ’ s see who is available."

Mikel Arteta said that the North London Derby this weekend is at risk of being postponed

A Premier League statement read : "The Premier League has received a postponement request from Arsenal FC relating to their away match against Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 4.30pm on Sunday 16 January.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe and Sead Kolasinac missed the match at Anfield with injuries, and Bukayo Saka and Cédric Soares departed early after picking up knocks.

Should the request be granted they may be open to accusations of playing the system, but the reverse argument will be that Arsenal have been inconvenienced by questionable postponements in the past.

Arsenal said : "We have reluctantly taken this step but we have many players currently unavailable across our squad as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their countries at Afcon."

Saka is a doubt for the north London derby (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal's manager was buoyant on Thursday night, hailing his team ’ s spirit and mentality for grinding out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their semi-final against Liverpool.

They played with 10 men for 66 minutes, after Granit Xhaka ’ s red card, and result makes them favourites to reach the Carabao Cup final.

We try to prepare games thinking we are going to play.

Ben White, in particular, was outstanding.

The Gunners currently have 11 players sidelined for various reasons and that could grow

It wasn ’ t easy at all, especially against a team like Liverpool.

With the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all currently unavailable, the north Londoners will no doubt be sweating over the severity of Saka's problem.

Mikel Arteta has seen his player absence list go up in the past week or so, as Covid related problems and Africa Cup of Nations commitments have come into play.

Yet the Spaniard will hope to have as many of his squad available for this contest, and was boosted by the return of Gabriel in midweek, following his one match suspension.

Bukayo Saka was replaced in the 81st minute of Arsenal’s draw (Picture: Getty)

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