Mikel Arteta says Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice have been unable to train since the 2-2 draw with Sp*rs and Thomas Partey, Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard are definitely out of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup clash at Brentford.
It remains to be seen how Saka recovers in the coming days – the winger took a blow to his foot and had to be substituted in the closing stages on Sunday – but Arteta admits he may not be back in time for the weekend’s game at Bournemouth.
“He was limping quite badly after the match,” he told the media on Tuesday. “As you know, we had to get him off the field which is never a good sign and he hasn’t been able to participate in the session.”
Asked if that means he’ll miss Saturday’s match, he added, “It’s a possibility, yes.”
Various reports have suggested that the back injury that forced Rice off at half time isn’t too serious. Arteta seemed to corroborate that but kept his cards close to his chest rather than go into specifics.
“He hasn’t trained yet. Obviously, he cannot carry on in the game [on Sunday], he wasn’t comfortable at all, but hopefully, it’s not something big.
“We are confident [it’s not a big problem], but he’s still uncomfortable, he had to leave the pitch and that’s never a good sign for a player like him. Hopefully, he will progress in the next few days but he’s still doubtful. For tomorrow, he won’t be available. Let’s see day by day how he improves and whether he’s got a chance or not [for the weekend].”
Reflecting on the state of his squad, Arteta added: “It’s the situation that we have at the moment, the squad that we have at the moment is really short and we need players back, that’s for sure.”
Arteta wasn’t convinced when it was put to him that Arsenal’s involvement in the Champions League could be a reason for injuries mounting up this early.
“We only had one Champions League game and it’s still early [in the season]. It’s true that they play with the national teams and it comes after a season that had a World Cup with some players playing 60 odd games.
“It’s a lot of things. We’ve been unlucky with the injury of Jurrien [Timber], for example, it’s for other reasons, Bukayo was because they stepped in [on his foot]. There are some traumatic injuries, some that are more muscular that we try to find the right reasons to try to avoid them but they are part of football.”
With six key players sidelined and a senior squad of 25, Arteta says Arsenal won’t be in a position to completely rotate at the Community Stadium. At the same time, fringe players and youngsters from the academy are likely to get minutes.
“There are a lot of players that need minutes, that’s for sure. You can go through the squad, some players haven’t played that many minutes and tomorrow they’re going to have exposure for sure. That can include [academy youngsters], yes.”