In the lead-up to the much-anticipated match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Mikel Arteta has provided hints about his potential starting lineup.
Arsenal are riding high in the Premier League, having not suffered a defeat in the season’s first eight games, a feat they share with their North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
The Gunners got the monkey off their back after beating Manchester City 1-0 before the break, a team they had struggled to overcome for nearly six years.
Despite facing injuries to key players in recent weeks, Arteta appears optimistic about fielding his preferred front trio, which includes Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Gabriel Jesus. Saka, who has been nursing an injury, was absent from the team that secured victory against Manchester City and also missed two international matches for England.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference ahead of the Chelsea clash, Arteta provided updates on the injury status of his players and their likelihood of featuring on Saturday.
When asked if Saka is eager to play against Chelsea, Arteta remarked, “I’m sure he wants to play. I don’t see any player there that doesn’t want to be in the starting XI.”
On Saka not being involved against Manchester City and England, Arteta acknowledged that it may have been beneficial for the player: “He has been working so hard to be fit for this game,” the boss said. “Let’s see where he is at today. He had a couple of days off that he needed, but the rest, unfortunately, has not been rest for him because he needed treatment and training to get ready to be available against Chelsea.”
Regarding William Saliba, who has been carrying a toe injury for several weeks, Arteta stated that the decision on his involvement would depend on his performance in training.
“Hopefully not but he has been carrying that for weeks now and we have to use that time to settle. We believe that this was the best moment to do it.
On whether Saliba will play against Chelsea: “It depends on how he trains today.”
Arsenal are travelling to west London as the more in-form team. Chelsea have rebounded from a rocky start to the season with three consecutive wins in all competitions. The Blues have are winless at home against Arsenal in their last four meetings, suffering three losses and securing a single draw.
Mikel Arteta emphasized his team’s focus on taking the matches one at a time and downplayed the significance of past encounters.
“We just go game by game, and tomorrow they’ll have a really strong squad who are playing at home, but we have as well. We are in a good moment and we will try to play better than them and beat them, and that’s it – what’s happened in the past doesn’t matter.”
He also hinted at the possibility of Saka, Martinelli, and Jesus starting together soon, expressing confidence in the team’s ability to adapt and perform even when key players are sidelined.
“Obviously, we had injuries, and we had the availability we have, we missed other players as well in midfield that are very, very important, but I’m sure we’ll get them back. It’s about being able to win and continue to perform in the right way even when those players aren’t there and now, we’re going to have the opportunity to see them, I’m sure.”