As he finalises his preparations for Thursday’s Europa League game against FC Zurich, Mikel Arteta gave an update on three players who have recovered from injury.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mohamed Elneny were back in the thick of the action at London Colney after the Ukrainian put his calf issues to one side, while the Egyptian midfielder looked to be over the hamstring injury that has seen him out of action since August.
Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka showed no ill effects after limping off against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, and Arteta was happy to provide the media with how the trio were faring.
“They are at different stages,” he said. “Mo had a long-term injury but he has recovered now in a really good way and has been training with the team for a week or two. Alex is just very recent and he’s had two training sessions. Bukayo just missed one or two sessions and was fine today.
“We’re using our brains and our common sense, but obviously he had a kick and wasn’t comfortable. We made a decision to get him off, and now he’s feeling fine.”
The boss also suggested that Bukayo could even be fit to face Zurich on Thursday night, but a game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge just three days later will mean further juggling of his squad in an attempt to remain top of the Europa League group and the Premier League table come Sunday evening.
Reflecting on if he would rest players against Zurich, he said: “I don’t approach games thinking that after half an hour or 45 minutes we will get the result that we want, but certainly I will have a really competitive team out there. We missed the chance in Holland last week and Thursday is the last opportunity to achieve our goal.
“We have been trying to load the players pretty equally over the last five or six weeks, because we have been playing every three days and we have managed to do that. You have seen that we haven’t repeated too many blocks of four games for certain individuals and we will try to continue to do that to get everyone as fresh as possible and with enough rhythm heading into the game.”