Arsenal are sweating on the availability of Bukayo Saka heading into tonight’s Premier League clash with Manchester United…
The 20-year-old limped off after scoring a goal during the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon with a suspect thigh problem.
He has since been assessed at their London Colney training base and manager Mikel Arteta provided a worrying update in his pre-game press conference this week.
“We have the doubt with Bukayo and another few knocks that we got against Newcastle,” the Spaniard revealed (via the Evening Standard). “I am hopeful, but we don’t know [if Saka can play]. It is a really short turnaround and the player has to be comfortable playing with a little injury.”
Saka is an integral member of Arteta’s starting XI in north London and he has played a crucial role in their recent upturn in fortunes on the pitch.
Only fellow Hale End academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe (six) and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (five) have delivered more direct goal contributions than the England international (four) in the Premier League in 2021/22.
Despite only two assists from 12 starts, Saka leads the way for creativity, having averaged a squad-high 1.6 key passes per game (21 in total), per WhoScored.
Back in February, Arteta waxed lyrical about the young gem’s influence on the pitch and how it was hard to leave him out of the starting XI.
“It is (difficult) at the moment because he’s been a real threat. He’s involved in a lot of goals all the time and his consistent performances make him a starter obviously,” he told the club’s official website.
The 14-time England international, who is valued at £58.5m by Transfermarkt, would be a huge miss for the Gunners up at Old Trafford, particularly as there is a lot at stake and three points would seriously bolster their claims to qualify for a place in Europe next season.
Arsenal are sat in fifth place, just one point behind West Ham, so a victory would see them move into the top-four for the first time in what seems like a very long time. Meanwhile, the Red Devils are down in tenth position and could go to within just two points of the north London giants.
Arteta must be hugely concerned about the availability of his star man. Yes, his side went on a ten-game unbeaten run but they were exposed against a big side in Liverpool, before getting back on track against the rock-bottom Magpies.
United, despite their poor form, can pose a big threat and have plenty of big-name stars at their disposal, so without the talents of Saka, the Gunners boss may be a little scared heading into kick-off.