August 22, 2021 Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with manager Mikel Arteta as gets ready to come on as a substitute REUTERS

Arsenal are dealing with a challenging situation with the squad hit by COVID-19 cases and injuries, manager Mikel Arteta said after they lost to Chelsea, their second defeat in as many games at the start of the Premier League season.

After a season-opening loss at newcomers Brentford, Arteta’s team were beaten 2-0 by London rivals Chelsea at home on Sunday.

It was the first time Arsenal lost their first two league games without scoring.

New signing Ben White missed Sunday’s game after the centre back became the latest player to test positive for COVID-19, while full back Hector Bellerin and midfielder Thomas Partey were ruled out with injuries.

Arsenal were handed another blow after left back Kieran Tierney and forward Gabriel Martinelli limped off in the second half.

“It’s really challenging at the moment. We are missing nine players and the majority of them are big senior players,” Arteta said. “We put out there a team that will probably be unprecedented in the history of this football club.

“But credit to the boys… They are playing with a lot of courage in this situation, which is tough. They are trying their best – and at the moment it’s not enough to win.”

Arsenal face another tough test when they travel to Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday, but Arteta, who is under pressure after successive defeats, said the team cannot afford to feel dejected.

August 22, 2021 Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku after the match REUTERS

“I don’t want to see anybody feeling sorry for themselves or the squad or the team, because that’s not going to help us,” he said.

“I want a team and individuals that want to fight and want to face the challenge that is ahead of us, because normally when you do that, at some stage you get rewards.”

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