Mikel Arteta has confirmed that William Saliba will miss tomorrow’s clash with Leeds United as he continues to recover from a back problem sustained in the Europa League defeat to Sporting Lisbon.
The club were hopeful the France international would be available after the international break but scans showed the injury to be more serious than anticipated.
While Arteta hasn’t put a timeline on Saliba’s return to action, he says both club and player are ‘hopeful’ he won’t be ruled out for the remaining 10 games of the season. Given rumours have circulated that the player could require surgery, it’s a positive of sorts.
🗣️ “He is progressing, unfortunately he still has some discomfort. He is not going to be fit for this game. He is trying to do everything he can to feel better. I am very hopeful and he is as well.”
Mikel Arteta on William Saliba’s fitness. 🤕 pic.twitter.com/ovepLXRoFb
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 31, 2023
Facing the media on Friday, Arteta said: “He is progressing. Unfortunately, he feels some discomfort in his back and we are trying to manage him in the best possible way.
“Unfortunately, he’s not going to be fit for this game [against Leeds] but we are trying, he is trying to do everything he can to feel better and get back training, but not yet.”
Asked if he’ll play a part in the run-in, the manager continued: “Yeah, I’m very hopeful and he is as well.
“Back injuries are a bit tricky, how they evolve with the load in certain areas but he’s very positive about it, the medical staff are positive about it, so let’s push it every day a little bit and see how he copes with that and how the pain develops. He’s so willing to be back with the team.
He added: “We don’t know if it happened in the previous game, because he had a very awkward landing against Fulham, but before that he was fine.
“It’s maybe more for the doctors [to answer] but it’s more specific the area and the load that Willy puts in that area, how he can cope with that and what pain he can handle and what are the risks of making it worse. That’s something we have to be aware of.
“I want to be positive and think that he’s going to be able to do that [manage the injury] but I don’t have the answer today to answer 100 per cent today if that’s going to be the case.”
Pressed on whether surgery, which would likely end the player’s season, was still on the table, Arteta said: “Hopefully, we get the right load for him, the right amount of rest that he needs while we’re keeping him active and the pain starts to go away and we are more comfortable with the images we have of him that we can start to take him to the pitch and do certain activities with him. That’s it.”
Up until his injury, Saliba had started in the centre of defence alongside Gabriel Magalhaes in every Premier League game this season. In his absence, Rob Holding deputised against Crystal Palace and seems certain to do the same again tomorrow.
While Arteta said “the rest of them are good” when pressed on the fitness of his other players, he wasn’t taking into account Eddie Nketiah, who is working his way back from an ankle issue, and Mohamed Elneny and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who have been ruled out for the rest of the season with knee issues.
Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are expected to be available. The Scot was subbed off in the closing stages of his country’s sensational 2-0 win over Spain earlier in the week while Partey wasn’t risked by Ghana in the second of their two Interlull games with Angola.
Arsenal were so determined to keep close tabs on the midfielder’s fitness that club physio Simon Murphy was embedded within the Ghana coaching set-up.
“It’s something we did in the past as well,” said Arteta.
“We have a really good relationship with the federation and we have to manage and look after our players and they’ve been really positive about it as well.
“We tried to help as much as possible and I think it works both ways. Obviously, he wasn’t fit enough to play the second game but hopefully, he’s going to be back for the weekend.”
Rob holding will come clutch again! Just like the two FA cup finals but now with 10 finals to go. COYG…..
I wish I shared your optimism.
When I hear Rob Holding, I don’t think of cup finals, I think of Son
I know what you mean, but I think that experience could help him out now. He was clearly too amped up for it, and having seen how it went wrong, he can know how to control his emotions and mentality better now if he does need to play in more high-intensity games.
I know I’m not a professional athlete (yet) (I’m still only 39).
But back injuries suck man.
You think they are all healed and then you make an innocuous movement and you’re groaning again.
He might need the odd injection to get through this season.
So annoying it happened on that stupid fucking night where Holding really could’ve played.
Ah well. Life is easy with hindsight.
They do indeed.
Especially worrying that someone so young is already suffering with it.
Let’s just hope it is a one off and he is not predisposed to further back injury.
It happens and it sucks. Had two vertebrae fused when I was 14 and it was a nightmare. Hopefully it’s only muscular for WS
Two vertebrae fused?
That’s a ticking time bomb.
I have back problems at the moment, recently couldn’t even walk, it’s weird how it affects other parts of your body and how it moves. If I really needed to do something I could pop a strong painkiller to get me through but I’d pay for it afterward, I wouldn’t suggest Saliba has injections so he can play the next 10 games. Rest is the main solution, but it can take time. Fingers crossed.
While we remain hopeful for Saliba, we have a key component of Holding Chambers ready and available; and he loves cup finals. He is chomping at the prospect of being in ten!
In Rob Holding we trust !
Holding should be fine for most games – Leeds, West Ham, Southampton, Newcastle, Forest and Wolves – he’s more than capable of stepping in without us missing a beat
But the Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Brighton games I’d be nervous about
Could Saliba be rested for the ‘easier’ games in the hope his condition will improve enough to play the tougher ones?
I think there may be a bit of psychological mind games going on there – it is not uncommon to over-exaggerate and lull our opponents into a sense of false security 🙂
I am a little more pessimistic–not that we can’t win with Holding, but that it will affect a lot more than one position. For example, Zinchenko can only play as he has (brilliantly and effectively) because Gabriel is able to cover up on the left if someone gets behind our “left fullback.” And Gabriel can only cover so much space on the left because he knows Saliba has the pace and the understanding to shift over to cover the area Gabriel has left unprotected. If it’s Holding, does Gabriel have to be more conservative? That’s only one example (think about… Read more »
Hopefully they are right to be hopeful and he’ll be back soon. I’m the meantime, this seems an excellent opportunity to get that contract signed!
Dam, that escalated quick. Good to know partey is fit. That’s huge. Robbie holding to the rescue.
The annoying thing is that Saliba got injured in a game that he shouldn’t have been involved in. Holding should have started that match instead. The EL was a massive pain in the a**e that distracted us from the main prize.
I just hope Saliba’s injury is as bad as Arteta is making it out to be.
hindsight 20/20 yada yada
He could get such injury in training.