Mikel Arteta says he’s unsure if Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard will be available for selection when Arsenal travel to Prague later this week and he’s also sweating on the fitness of Bukayo Saka.
The England international went down injured in the second half of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Sheffield United and had to be replaced by Willian. The teenager had been tasked with the number 10 role at Bramall Lane with Smith Rowe and Odegaard left in London to nurse ankle injuries.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang feeling unwell and Kieran Tierney and David Luiz sidelined by knee injuries, the boss had little choice but to reshuffle his pack. He may have to do more of the same in the coming days.
“Bukayo has the ability, the capacity and the intelligence to play as a 10 in those pockets,” said Arteta in his post-game press conference.
“We prepared it for this opponent and as well with the players we have available, and at the moment we’re missing five or six big players. We had to adapt some positions and I believe it was the right choices.”
Given all his players were fit just before the Interlull, Arteta was asked if he feels unlucky at the sudden influx of injuries.
“Yes,” he said. “I don’t know the extent [of Bukayo’s injury]. I think for certain David will be out. Kieran will be out and then with Martin, we don’t know yet. Bukayo, we’ll see how he develops in the next few days.
On Saka’s problem, he added: “He had to come off. He had discomfort in his thigh and it’s the last thing that we need because we’re missing some big players at the moment and we don’t want to lose another one. Hopefully, it’s not that serious.”
While he couldn’t speak in definitive terms, he was also hopeful that Smith Rowe and Odegaard might recover. “I want to think yes but if I’m honest, I don’t know,” he said before sharing his assessment on captain Aubameyang.
“He was unwell yesterday, he could not train, he could not be available today but hopefully in the next day or two he will be feeling better and he will be available to get picked.”