Arteta rules Saliba out of Leeds clash

William Saliba is substituted during our game against Sporting CP

Mikel Arteta has admitted that William Saliba's back injury will mean that he will once again be missing from our starting XI against Leeds United on Saturday.

The Frenchman sat out our win against Crystal Palace before the international break and wasn’t included in his country’s squad for their Euro 2024 qualifiers as he continues to undergo treatment for the issue, and hasn’t recovered in time to face the Whites at Emirates Stadium.

Mikel is hoping that the problem won’t keep him out for much longer, and all parties are willing to do what it takes to get him back fully fit on the pitch as soon as they can.

Talking about the issue in his pre-match press conference, Mikel said: “He is progressing. He still has some discomfort in his back. We are trying to manage him in the best possible way, but unfortunately, he’s not going to be fit for his game. We are trying – he’s trying to do everything to feel better and get back into training, but not yet.
“Back injuries are a bit tricky with how they evolve and the load that you put in certain areas, but he’s very positive about it. The medical staff are positive about it. Let’s push it every day a little bit and see how he can cope with that, and how the pain develops as well. He’s obviously so willing to be back with the team.

Despite coming off against Sporting CP a couple of weeks ago, Mikel also admits that it is difficult to know how and when the injury occurred, adding a little more complexity to the situation, but the main aim of the medical staff is to make sure they don’t rush the 22-year-old back too soon.

“We don’t know if it happened in the previous game because he had a very awkward landing against Fulham but before that he was fine,” he added.

“That’s one more for the doctors to answer and be more specific about the area and the load he puts into the area, how he can cope with that and what kind of pain he can handle, and avoid the risk that we can make it worse.

“I want to be positive and think that he is going to be able to [manage it when he returns], but I don’t have the answer today to answer 100 per cent that is going to be the case.”

One player who has made a recent return from injury is Gabriel Jesus, who featured in the matches against Fulham, Sporting CP and Crystal Palace before the international break as he tries to regain full match sharpness, something Mikel believes isn’t far away.

“He’s very close to that,” he added. “In the last 10 days he’s made a big step forward and you can see that he is looser and he is not thinking about [his previous injury]. You can see in training that he is already creating that chaos and unique moments that he is capable of, so he is in a good place now.”

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