Mikel Arteta admits that he’ll have to assess Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Leandro Trossard’s fitness in today’s final training session ahead of our game against Chelsea on Saturday.
The trio pulled out of their international squads a fortnight ago due to various little issues, with Bukayo and Leandro struggling with hamstrings, while William has a problem with his big toe.
Those doubts, coupled with the fact we’ve had 14 players away with their nations over the past 10 days means that while Mikel has an idea of the 11 players he wants to field at Stamford Bridge, he isn’t ruling anyone in or out at this stage.
Reflecting on his selection dilemmas, he said: “We obviously haven’t had a lot of players. It’s the first training session we’re going to do today and we will know more after the session.
“I do have an idea [of his starting XI] but I have to see them all together today and how everybody is because we have a lot of people travelling around the world and with a lot of minutes in the legs. I want to judge what is the best for tomorrow, not only in terms of what I want to do tactically but also how the energy is, how the mood is, how the spirit is. In order to that, I will have a better clue after the session today.”
Bukayo missed his first Premier League game in 88 matches against Manchester City last time out after being forced off injured against Lens in the Champions League nearly three weeks ago.
It has been suggested that that gap between matches might have done him some good, but Mikel was quick to counter that despite not playing competitive football, the rehab our attacker has been putting in means it hasn’t been the quietest of periods for him.
On his chances of facing Chelsea, Mikel added: “I’m sure he wants to play. I don’t see any player there that doesn’t want to be in the starting XI. He has been working so hard to be fit for this game and 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 the treatment and training to get ready to be available against Chelsea.
“I think we have to play him when we see he is in the right condition to play - mentally, physically and that he’s performing. He needs to deserve to play, that’s another story, but so far when he’s played that amount of minutes, it’s because we believe he was ready to cope with that.”
William meanwhile has been struggling with a toe issue, and saw the international break as an opportunity to try and solve it, but the boss admits that his participation is also in question.
On whether the injury could be a reoccuring one, Mikel suggested: “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.”
Hear everything the boss had to say in his pre-Chelsea press conference, including his friendship with Mauricio Pocchettino, our various penalty-taking options and much more.
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