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.”