Friday, June 2, 2023

Mikel Arteta hints he will unleash “special” player against Zurich tonight – he could make all the difference

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has hinted that Bukayo Saka will play some part in the match when the Gunners take on Zurich in the Europa League on Thursday.

The admission will end what has been a worrying week for player, club and national team.

Saka was substituted in the first half of Sunday’s 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Speaking after the game, Arteta was hopeful that the winger would be fit in time to make England’s World Cup squad.

But Saka, along with recovering duo Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mohamed Elneny, was pictured in training on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash.

That allayed fears that he would not be available for the World Cup – a major boost for Gareth Southgate.

The return of Saka, even with just two league games left before Premier League teams break for the World Cup, is also a huge advantage for Arsenal.

The 21-year-old has been in top form for the Gunners this season, with five goals and five assists in 17 matches in all competitions.

He has featured in every club game so far this season, with Arsenal fans concerned that his 100 per cent record would have to end tonight.

But Arteta had some positive news in his pre-match press conference.

Arteta on Bukayo Saka

The Arsenal boss explained: “Bukayo just missed one or two sessions, and was fine today.”

Asked whether Saka could play a part in the upcoming match, he simply replied: “Yes.”

The Gunners are reportedly in talks over giving one of their star players a new contract – news which would be hugely welcomed by all Arsenal fans.

Roy Keane told Sky Sports in March that Saka is a ‘special talent’ – and previously said he could play for any top team in England and Europe.

In September, he added: “He’s squeezed a lot into his short career, but I like everything about him.

“He can beat players easily, and there’s more to come from him with regards to end product, but I really like the look of the kid.”

Arsenal will desperately be hoping the winger commits to the club long-term.

But in the short-term, the 21-year-old could help the Gunners to top the Premier League on Christmas Day, which they will if they secure victory in their next two league games.

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