Mikel Arteta
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta

Arsenal's Spanish midfielder, Mikel Arteta, who was forced off the field in the eight minute of the Gunners' 1-2 defeat to Wigan, has been ruled out of the rest of the season. The central midfielder's absence creates serious problems for manager Arsene Wenger, ahead of his side's critical derby clash against Chelsea, on Saturday, at the Emirates.

The Spanish midfielder twisted his ankle while trying to cross the ball in the game against Wigan, resulting in him being temporarily withdrawn from the field for treatment. Arsenal were not given stoppage time during this period and Wigan took full advantage of their momentary numerical superiority to net their second and game-winning goal.

Although Wenger did not seem very happy about this, he was more concerned about Arteta's injury.

"It is an ankle problem. It looks quite a serious one. It is too early to say tonight. But it doesn't look a little ankle sprain. It is a serious one," the Metro quoted Wenger as saying earlier.

The scans revealed no serious ligament damage (in the ankle) but Arteta has still been ruled out for the final weeks of the season, during which Arsenal will play Chelsea, Stoke City, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion.

The injury adds to Wenger's woes; the Frenchman is already without a number of first-team players, including the influential Jack Wilshere and players like Abou Diaby and Per Mertesacker. Additionally, on-loan midfielder Yossi Benayoun cannot play because of a clause in his contract (Benayoun is on loan from Chelsea). The only reasonable option seems to be to play Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky alongside Alex Song.

The game against Chelsea will be critical because of the defeat Arsenal suffered in their last game. If they lose to the Blues, the Gunners risk conceding their hold on a Champions League position for next year to both Tottenham and Newcastle.

Arteta transferred to Arsenal, from Everton, for a £10 million fee and has scored seven goals in a total of 31 league appearances.