Arteta admits Arsenal dilemma over ‘risk’ for star to face Man Utd

Date published: Wednesday 1st December 2021 10:35 - Jonny Whitfield

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during their 1-0 victory over Watford 2021

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted that Bukayo Saka is still an injury doubt for Thursday’s Premier League clash against Manchester United.

The England forward came off during last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle with a thigh problem. While the Gunners got their form back on track after the 4-0 loss to Liverpool, the injury concern set them back.

Saka is a key part of Arteta’s plans and he has played every Premier League game this season.

Arsenal are sweating on his fitness ahead of Thursday’s return to action. In Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, Arteta was unable to offer much clarity on his situation.

“We have a doubt with Bukayo and a couple of other knocks from the weekend game, but today is a day to assess if they are ready,” the Spaniard said.

“I am hopeful but we don’t know. Obviously it is a short turnaround and players have to be comfortable playing with a little injury so let’s see how he does in training today.”

Saka has scored two goals and laid on two others in the 13 league games so far. Along with Emile Smith Rowe, the youthful pair have led the way for the Gunners this season.

Saka has faced Man Utd three times in his Arsenal career so far, providing one assist.

However, Arteta insisted that he would not “risk” the 20-year-old if he felt it would make his situation worse.

“Until I see him this morning on the pitch it would probably be a bit too soon to say that [what percentage chance he will have of playing],” Arteta added.

“We are not going to risk our players if we believe that can go against us. Playing with an injury means that he had to leave the pitch and when someone has to leave the pitch I believe that he is injured. He was willing to continue. That injury can be 24 hours, 72 or a year.

“And Bukayo is really willing. He has been preparing the last two days because he wants to play and let’s see how he is.”

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Mikel Arteta Arsenal

Meanwhile, as the January transfer window edges closer, Arsenal have had links with a number of incomings and outgoings.

Gunners striker Alexandre Lacazette is no closer to extending his contract and has in fact admitted that his agent is beginning to look elsewhere.

As for who could come in, reports claim that Arsenal and West Ham have eyes on Flamengo striker Gabriel Barbosa.

Arteta said: “We are in discussions. We have talks every week about it. What happens in the January window can affect our squad.

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“As you know we have certain players with uncertainty in the summer so we have to plan now and the summer.

“We don’t expect big things happening but we have to be very alert and prepared in the market.”

Arsenal’s strong form on the pitch has seen them move up to fifth in the Premier League table, five points ahead of United ahead of their meeting.

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