Mikel Arteta defends decision to play Bukayo Saka after injury concerns

Mikel Arteta has defended the decision to play against Bukayo Saka in Arsenal’s Europa League win over PSV Eindhoven.

The England striker had missed just 179 minutes of club football this season before a 1-0 win at Emirates Stadium sent the Gunners through to the knockout stages.

Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of the game and Saka was once again the spark, although there was concern when he went down injured just after the hosts had taken the lead.

With the World Cup starting in two months, Saka’s form and fitness will continue to be closely monitored by England fans.

The 21-year-old has scored five goals in his 14 appearances so far this season and Arteta insists he has no qualms about playing Saka at every opportunity.

“Look at the best players in the world, they play 70 games every three days and make the difference and win the game,” he said.

“You want to be at the top, you have to be able to do that. And if we start putting something else on a young player’s mind, then I think we’re making a big mistake [he would] be like ‘no, I’m not playing now, I’m not playing on artificial grass’.

“I dont want that. I want them to be ruthless every three days. I want them knocking on my door (saying) ‘I want to play, I want to win the game’.

“There isn’t a fitness trainer in the world who tells me they can’t because I’ve seen it. 72 games and scored 50 goals.

“The players who score 50 goals don’t play 38 games in the season, that’s just impossible.”

When asked about Saka’s injury, the Spaniard added: “Yeah, he got kicked, he hobbled a bit but hopefully he’ll be fine.”



Check out the best players in the world, they play 70 games every three days and make the difference and win the game

Mikel Arteta

Arteta is now aiming for first place in Group A which would give Arsenal a bye to the Round of 32 and avoid Champions League failures.

“We’re qualified, so that’s the first step,” he added. “I do it with pleasure.

“Now we want to get second, which is first in the group, because we know what a difference it will make in terms of the games you’re going to play and against whom. We still had to do that.”

Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was in the opposing dugout after taking over from PSV in the summer.

Despite suffering a narrow defeat, he was pleased with how his players reacted to a slow start to the game.

“We fought defensively as a team, we defended very deeply, I didn’t really want that,” he said.

“In the first half we weren’t in the game at all, we just defended and survived and went into half-time with a goal against.

“We did. We had a few moments where we played a bit and created a half-chance or two, but it wasn’t enough to get a result here.

“In the second half we started playing…we created more, controlled it a little bit more and at the end we were still hoping for a point here. In that respect we are a bit disappointed, although Arsenal deserved to win.”

There were some unsavory scenes as PSV supporters were seen ripping out seats in the away area and launching a flare into the home area. The PA news agency assumes that the incident should be investigated by Uefa.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/mikel-arteta-arsenal-england-ruud-van-nistelrooy-bukayo-saka-b2207346.html Mikel Arteta defends decision to play Bukayo Saka after injury concerns

Fry Electronics Team

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