Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confirmed that England winger Bukayo Saka is fine and can play against FC Zurich on Thursday if necessary.
Saka limped off against Nottingham Forest on Sunday after suffering an ankle injury.
In the fifth minute he assisted his team’s first goal, but left the field 22 minutes later.
Arsenal did not miss out on their star winger and came out ahead 5-0, while his substitute Reiss Nelson scored twice and provided an assist.
On Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against FC Zurich, Arteta told reporters that Saka was “fine” and had not missed more than two training sessions since Sunday.
Asked if he could be fit in time for the Zurich game, Arteta replied: “Yes.
“Bukayo only missed one or two (training sessions) and he was fine today.
“We used our brains and common sense, but obviously he had a kick. He was uncomfortable with it, we made the decision to leave him and now he is fine”.
Arteta was embroiled in a heated debate on the sidelines with Saka and club doctor Gary O’Driscoll, stating that Saka was trying to work through the pain before the decision was made to replace him with Nelson, who in the comfortable win scored two goals.
“The conversation was easy: ‘he’s in or he’s out’, but in between we can’t have a player (injured) for five, six, seven minutes,” he added.
“So you’re on the field or you’re off the field, or you’re going to be off the field, then you sit on the ground and get off.
“We have to make a decision and that’s it because we can’t delay a situation like this because every minute that a player doesn’t play at 100% costs the team and we have to make those decisions quickly”.
This is great news for Arsenal and England as the World Cup kicks off later this month.
Saka is likely to start for the Three Lions in Qatar, unless manager Gareth Southgate decides to start Phil Foden or Marcus Rashford, for example.
It’s a surprise the 21-year-old hasn’t been injured considering the number of times he’s been knocked down in games.
Arteta was asked how referees should deal with tough challenges like Saka.
He said: “It’s your job to handle this in the best possible way.”
Arsenal will top their European group ahead of PSV, who beat the Gunners 2-0 last week, with a victory over Zürich in the Emirates.
Arteta was further strengthened by the return of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mohamed Elneny.
Elneny has only played once this season before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. He is now back in full training and could play against the Swiss.
Zinchenko, who joined Arsenal from Manchester City in the summer transfer window, has shone this season when he has been available.
However, he was the most injured of the squad.
The Ukraine international was limited to just one Europa League and five Premier League appearances in 2022-23.
Arteta confirmed that Zinchenko has only done two training sessions and that Elneny is “recovering well” after his long absence due to injury.
“They are at different stages,” the Arsenal manager explained.
“Mo had a long-term injury and is recovering well. [Zinchenko] just two training sessions.”
Many fans have noted that new summer signing Gabriel Jesus is going through a goal drought.
The Brazilian striker is yet to score in Europe this season and his last domestic goal came against Tottenham Hotspur on 1 October.
Arteta isn’t worried, especially after the 25-year-old had a couple of assists against Steve Cooper’s side on Sunday.
“If he gives three assists in a game, I don’t think he needs to make a lot of adjustments,” Arteta said.
The Gunners boss also commented on the rumours. The FC Barcelona is interested in him.
“Barcelona is on a very good path now, with a phenomenal coach,” he said.
“Before that you have to be very respectful.”
Arteta says that he will not plan any friendlies for his players at the World Cup in Qatar.
He said: “Yes, for sure we will have some friendlies. We have to do it because we have 10, 11, 12 players here and they need it.”
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