Monday, October 2, 2023

Saka injured, Arteta gives bad update in conference

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Mikel Arteta addressed the media after Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest.Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta offered hope to Gunners and England fans after Bukayo Saka hobbled off injured in the first half of Sunday’s win over Nottingham Forest. The Three Lions winger went down twice before admitting defeat, sparking concern that the knock could impact his chances of appearing at the World Cup next month.

Saka tormented Forest left-back Renan Lodi early in the game and took a few kicks in the process. The 21-year-old played a crucial role in the opener as his cross was headed in by Gabriel Martinelli to kick-start a dominant home display.

But another Lodi challenge saw Saka slump to the turf and eventually go off injured. His replacement, Reiss Nelson, had a superb afternoon as he notched two goals and one assist to help the Gunners to a resounding 5-0 victory.

Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard also got on the scoresheet to catapult Arsenal back to the top of the table following Manchester City’s win over Leicester on Saturday. After the final whistle, thoughts soon turned back to the Saka substitution.

When asked whether it could keep him out of the World Cup, Arteta told reporters: “Hopefully not. It was a bad kick that he suffered right at the start of the game, he was limping for a bit.

Arsenal went into this game against Nottingham Forest looking for three points to steady the ship, but no one would have predicted Reiss Nelson would be the man to fire them to victory.

Before today, the winger had not scored in the Premier League for Arsenal since July 2020 and he spent last season on loan at Feyenoord.

Nelson ended that run here against Nottingham Forest, a wait of 837 days, with a Premier League goal. Three minutes later, he had a second.

It was all part of a thumping 5-0 victory for Arsenal, who responded in style to their defeat at PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.

After that loss in Holland, there had been a few nerves among supporters arriving at Emirates Stadium today, with many wary of how their side had looked tired in recent weeks.

There was none of that on show against Forest, though, as Arsenal came out of the blocks flying and opened the scoring inside four minutes. Gabriel Martinelli found Bukayo Saka with a pass and then he got on the end of the winger’s cross to head home.

Arteta continued that rhetoric this season, insisting before the Gunners began their Europa League campaign that Nelson could have a role to play – and even a long-term future at the club.

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” said Arteta, when asked by Standard Sport if Nelson could sign a new deal instead of leaving for free next summer. “That is why he is here, because we want to have that opportunity with him.

“He was willing to take that opportunity and again it’s down to him to show it now on the pitch. We think the potential is there and we think we’ve seen something in Reiss that is special.”

Time will tell if this performance against Forest was the start of a renaissance for Nelson, or a flash in the pan.

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