William Saliba is due to be missing again for our game against Southampton on Friday night, with Mikel Arteta admitting that his recovery from a back issue is taking longer than anticipated.
The Frenchman has been out of action for the past month after being taken off in our Europa League game against Sporting CP, and has missed our last four matches. Arteta was initially hopeful William could be in contention to step up his recovery this week, but now has ruled out that possibility.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, he said: “The picture hasn’t changed from last week. Regarding William, we still have to wait a little bit more.
“He’s not progressing as quickly as we hoped and it is a bit delicate so we want to be certain that when we push him, he’s ready to absorb the load and the risk that we’ll take, and that’s not possible at the moment.”
When pressed on whether William will be available for any of our final seven games of the campaign, Mikel added: “I don’t know, it’s a bit early to know. Probably next week we’ll have more certainty.
“There is some evolution, he’s doing more activity but is not there yet to start to throw him into the pitch at the level the sessions demand to compete in this league.”
Another player who missed last weekend’s draw at West Ham United was Oleksandr Zinchenko who picked up a groin issue, and Mikel admits he is unclear as to whether the Ukrainian defender will return for the visit of the Saints.
“We’ll see about that one as well, it’s not certain,” he said. “It’s a muscular injury and it needs some time to heal and we’re not there yet.”
Should both Saliba and Zinchenko miss out, it means Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney could be in line to start in their absences once again, and Arteta was quick to praise the duo for their professionalism, having waited for opportunities all campaign.
“Their contribution is huge,” the boss added. “First of all the way they behave around the team, how patient they have been, and when they have to play what they have produced in terms of performances.
“Now, they are playing more games, they are playing more minutes and will continue to do so. This is why you need top-quality players with the right mentality to be ready when you need them on the pitch, and when you are not using them that much, to contribute to the team in the right way. Those two are great examples of that.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.