Mikel Arteta provided a worrying update after Arsenal’s defeat to Lens in the Champions League, saying Bukayo Saka’s injury “doesn’t look good”.
The Gunners were beaten on Tuesday night by a spirited Lens side who fought back from a goal down to claim a historic victory. Gabriel Jesus gave Arsenal the lead before the hosts responded with an excellent goal from Adrien Thomasson. The superb Elye Wahi then won it for the French outfit with 20 minutes remaining as the visitors produced a wretched second-half display.
While there were concerns about the performance, there were arguably greater worries surrounding the fitness of star man Saka, who hobbled off in the first half with a hamstring injury.
The superstar winger has enjoyed a productive start to the campaign despite being hampered by several knocks, and many will now question why Arteta decided to start his overused star given that such an imperative Premier League encounter awaits Arsenal on Sunday at home to Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta provides worrying Bukayo Saka injury update
After walking straight down the tunnel following his withdrawal, Saka returned to the bench in his tracksuit and watched on as his side suffered their first defeat of the 2023/24 season.
When quizzed post-match regarding the England international’s injury, this is what Arteta had to say: “He tried to backheel a ball in the first half. He felt something. It was muscular. He was uncomfortable and we had to take him off. We don’t know anything more than that. It was big enough not to allow him to play the rest of the game and that is a worry for us.”
The Spaniard was somewhat vague, but his update is a concern considering that City’s visit is just a few days out. Arteta said he has “no clue” whether Saka will be fit for Sunday’s game.
If the winger does miss time, then the boss has plenty to answer for given that Saka has been forced off in his last three outings. While Saka’s availability has rightly been lauded, no player is invincible and such overuse will eventually take its toll. We’re seeing that at the start of 23/24, even if the player has continued to produce in the final third.
For now, all we can do is hope that Saka hasn’t done anything severe, and his latest setback should be a wake-up call for Arteta, who must protect his vulnerable superstar given the apparent lack of options he trusts below him in the pecking order.