Mikel Arteta says he’s hopeful that Bukayo Saka will be fit for tomorrow night’s trip to Manchester United and says the midfielder has been prepping for the match.
While we don’t know the specifics of the injury picked up on Saturday against Newcastle, we do know he couldn’t make it to the full time whistle and asked to be replaced.
Facing the media on Wednesday morning, Arteta confirmed that long-term absentees Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac remain sidelined before confirming the medical team need to assess Saka and a few other knocks before the trip north.
“We have a doubt with Bukayo and another few knocks that we got against Newcastle. Today is the day to assess everybody and see if they can be fit for tomorrow and then make a decision on the lineup and the squad.
“I am hopeful [about Bukayo] but we don’t know. Obviously, it’s a really short turnaround and the player has to be comfortable playing with a little injury. Let’s see how it is in training.”
He added: “Until I see him this morning, on the pitch, it’s very difficult to say [how fit he is].”
Given the amount of football both Saka and fellow England international Emile Smith Rowe have played, it was put to Arteta that a time might come when he needs to give the youngsters a breather.
“We’re not going to risk our players if we believe that that can go against us,” he said.
“He [Bukayo] had an injury that meant he had to leave the pitch. When someone has to leave the pitch, I believe that he is injured. He wasn’t willing to continue. That injury can be 24 hours, 72 hours or a year. Bukayo is really willing, he’s been preparing the last two days because he wants to play. Let’s see how he is.
“He’s very important. As well, you see the importance of Gabi [Martinelli] when he came on. We have Nico [Pepe] who can play in that position, we have Eddie [Nketiah], we have many options that can fulfil their potential. That’s why players have to be ready when we need them to come in the team and make an impact.”
Would love him to play though more concerned he gets better and plays the rest of the season.
Incidentally did anyone know about Gabriel getting robbed and depending himself https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/gabriel-arsenal-fought-off-baseball-bat-wielding-thug-attempted-robbery-b969322.html
I am secretly hoping for a hell in a cage match between Gabriel and Kola after this incident.. During the off season of course.
Personally wouldn’t risk him, especially considering the number of games coming up. But he’s almost the first name on the team sheet for Arteta, and arguably our most important creative attacker. Arteta brought him back very quickly after his knock against Palace, wouldn’t be surprised if he does it again.
Not worth risking him, especially as we’ve got the busy Christmas period coming up the African cup of nations on the horizon. Time to give Martinelli that much coveted starting berth to reward him for the impact he made late on against Newcastle.
Interesting but I would stick with Auba for this one to try and exploit their back line (thinking of Maguire as a weak spot), and Odegaard for Gabi in your lineup to give us more strength in the midfield. Pepe is a stronger starter than Gabi at this stage for me. (Though it’s been so long since either have started, maybe they’re showing different form in training.) In any case, it’s nice to have some options and I’m excited for the game – hope we show them who’s the boss!
i like this lineup. saka could use a rest, tierney should get a chance, martinelli earned a game with that goal, pepe we should use while we can since he’ll be gone for afcon, and while the same logic could apply to auba i like how laca links with the players behind him and since laca’s only good for ~60 minutes at top velocity auba should get some time as a sub. amn should also be subbed on in midfield to get him ready to take over for partey during afcon.
Interesting he mentions Martinelli first, before Pepe. Seems like that might reflect the current pecking order?
Even if he passes fit, there should be plan not to give him more than an hour, no matter the score at that time.
Everton is a matter of days after that.
Pepe needs minutes, and we’ll need him this month.
Saka shall be unleashed on the Red Devils.