Arsenal boost with Saka ‘in contention’ to face Man City

James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FCOct 6, 2023, 02:38 PM3 Minute Read

Burley: No one on Arsenal can do the job that Saka does

Craig Burley says losing Bukayo Saka to injury is an especially big blow for Arsenal ahead of their Premier League fixture against Man City.

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is “in contention” to play in Sunday’s Premier League title clash against Manchester City as he battles to overcome a muscular injury.

The 22-year-old was forced off 34 minutes in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat at RC Lens with Arteta admitting the problem was “a worry” ahead of facing the league champions.

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However, the Spaniard was more upbeat at his Friday press conference, albeit refusing to clarify the exact nature of the injury or whether a scan had shown Saka had avoided a significant setback.

“He’s in contention,” said Arteta. “Let’s see how he progresses from here to Sunday. Obviously he had to leave the pitch, that is never good news but let’s see how he recovers. That’s it. I’m not a doctor. That’s what they told me.”

Saka has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad for matches against Australia and Italy despite the uncertainty and Arteta continued: “I have spoken to Gareth on several occasions but I have to do my job.

“I give him the news and the position that everybody is at. We have really good communication and he needs to make the best decision for the national team and I’m not going to get involved in that.”

City boss Pep Guardiola has won eight of 10 meetings with Arteta while Arsenal have not beaten Sunday’s opponents in the league since January 2015.

Arteta spent three years working under Guardiola as a coach at City before taking over at Arsenal in 2019 and when asked whether the pair were capable of surprising each other, he cited Bernardo Silva’s deployment as a left-back in this fixture last season – a tactic he abandoned at half-time as City went on to win 3-1.

“I’m sure that every year we have new tools, new players who can do different things,” said Arteta.

“We know each other, we expect certain things from each other but at the end, this is down to the players and they are the ones that surprise you the most that’s for sure.

“The last thing he did that surprised me? Probably [something] that he didn’t do. I expected him to do very different [things] with Bernardo and he didn’t.”

“He does [tactical changes] normally in big games and against big teams. He’s done it this season as well, against different opponents, different things.

“That’s a big quality of them because they can change it. But not only before the game, they can do it during the game, at half-time – that’s a strength, a team that is able to dominate these things.

“We need to be at our best in every department for 100 minutes and then we will have a chance.”

Thomas Partey will also be in the squad after recovering from a groin problem.

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