Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta lambasted his side's performance at Newcastle AFP / Oli SCARFF

Arsenal's title hopes have taken a major hit as they have suffered a double injury blow in the business end of the season.

With three games remaining in their 2022-23 Premier League campaign, Arsenal will be without defenders William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Gunners are just a point behind leaders Manchester City, but Pep Guardiola's side still has a game in hand. While Arsenal cannot afford to drop points in the remainder of the season, Mikel Arteta can only hope for their close rivals to do so.

The injuries have come at a very wrong time considering Arsenal are chasing their first Premier League title since the 2003-04 season.

Saliba, Zinchenko ruled out of the season

Saliba suffered a back injury in Arsenal's Europa League last-16 loss to Sporting Lisbon in March. He has since missed eight matches for Arsenal, which is a significant figure after he clinched 33 appearances in all competitions before picking up the injury. The French defender was a regular starter in the centre of Arteta's back-line along with Gabriel Magalhaes.

In the absence of Saliba, Rob Holding came in for Arsenal as Gabriel's centre-back partner. But a string of poor performances saw him getting replaced by Jakub Kiwior, who has impressed in the recent victories against Chelsea and Newcastle. Poland's Kiwior joined Arsenal during the January transfer window and had to wait for his first Premier League start. Out of four appearances in the league so far, Kiwor has started in two.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Zinchenko sustained a calf injury during Arsenal's 2-0 win against Newcastle at St. James' Park. Out of Arsenal's 35 matches in the Premier League, the left-back played 27. It is understood that Scotland's Kieran Tierney is set to step in for Arsenal in Zinchenko's absence.

Golden opportunity for Kieran Tierney

Tierney, who moved from Celtic to Arsenal in 2019, has started just five top-flight matches this campaign and is facing an uncertain future at the club. However, he now has a golden opportunity to impress head coach Arteta or any other manager who could be keeping an eye on him.

Since Zinchenko joined the Gunners from Manchester City last summer, Tierney has found first-team opportunities hard to come by. The Scottish national has struggled when used in Arteta's favoured inverted role as he is far more suited to being deployed as a more orthodox byline-style fullback.

Over the last few months, Tierney has since been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium and both Newcastle and Aston Villa are said to be monitoring his situation ahead of the 2023 summer transfer window.

While it is confirmed that Zinchenko and Saliba won't recover fully by Arsenal's final league outing, which is against Wolves at Emirates Stadium, the two players won't be required to undergo any surgery.

The final three matches for Arsenal in the Premier League are against Brighton, Nottingham Forest, and Wolves.

Meanwhile, Arteta is looking to land City's full-back Joao Cancelo ahead of the 2023-24 campaign. The 28-year-old defender left City in January to complete a loan switch to Bayern Munich for the second half of the season. While Cancelo fell out of favour in Guardiola's side, he has been making regular appearances for Bayern Munich.

Arsenal are keen on signing Cancelo since Arteta feels the Portuguese defender would suit their current style of play. The duo previously worked together when the Arsenal boss was assistant to Guardiola at City.

It is believed that Bayern Munich want to keep Cancelo beyond this season, with Barcelona and Real Madrid also said to be interested in a potential move. The young full-back has represented the Bundesliga champions 18 times during his loan spell so far, scoring one goal and assisting a further five. Two of his appearances have come against his parent club in the Champions League quarter-finals.