Arsenal and Mikel Arteta may have to face their biggest test of the 2023/24 season so far without Bukayo Saka. The 22-year-old has been an injury doubt heading into the last two games but against both Bournemouth and RC Lens, Saka was included from the off.
In the early stages of both games, Saka was involved in the goals, initially justifying Arteta's risky decision. Away to Bournemouth, Saka found himself in the right place at the right time to tuck home a rebound after Gabriel Jesus' header struck the bar and then the same duo combined in the Champions League with Saka assisting Jesus to put the Gunners in front against their French opposition.
Very quickly though, things turned sour for Arsenal with Lens first equalising and then came the potentially major long-term blow as Saka was forced off with a hamstring injury. After the game, Arteta gave an update on his condition: «He tried to backheel a ball in the first half and he felt something. It was something muscular. He wasn’t able to carry on and we had to take him off.» Arteta also told broadcasters that the injury «doesn't look good.»
While Arteta is normally very coy on giving injury updates, his initial reaction to the problem does not bode well, given Saka is a regular starter. Replacing Saka on the night in France was Fabio Vieira and the Portugal international also played on the right wing in the Emirates Cup against AS Monaco.
Last season, against Leeds in the only Premier League game that Saka did not start, Leandro Trossard was deployed on the right with Gabriel Martinelli on the opposite flank. A hamstring injury to the Brazil international has seen him miss the last few weeks and it is currently unlikely he makes the Man City game, making that front threeRead on football.london