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Premier League | Gameweek 31
Apr 3, 2024 at 7.30pm UK
Emirates Stadium
Luton Town

2 - 0

Odegaard (24'), Hashioka (44' og.)
Havertz (66')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Onyedinma (74')

Mikel Arteta delivers Bukayo Saka update ahead of Luton Town clash

Mikel Arteta delivers Saka update ahead of Luton Town clash
© Reuters
Mikel Arteta provides the latest on Bukayo Saka's fitness as Arsenal prepare to host Luton Town in Wednesday's Premier League clash at the Emirates.

Mikel Arteta has provided the latest on the fitness of Arsenal attacker Bukayo Saka ahead of Wednesday's Premier League showdown with Luton Town at the Emirates.

The 22-year-old was given the green light to start Sunday's top-of-the-table blockbuster with Manchester City, despite having to pull out of England duty with a long-standing muscular issue.

However, Saka could not get into full flow during the Gunners' 0-0 draw with the champions - thanks in no small part to Josko Gvardiol's standout performance at left-back - and he left the field with the physio in the second half.

The winger gingerly trudging to the sidelines has become a familiar sight this season, although Arteta stressed after the game that there was no flare-up of his previous injury - he was simply fatigued.

Nevertheless, Saka's enforced withdrawal has led to the expectation that he could be rested for Wednesday's visit of Luton, especially given the tight turnaround time, and Arteta was asked about the winger's condition straight away in Tuesday's press conference.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on March 31, 2024© Reuters

Positive updates on Gabriel Martinelli, Jurrien Timber

The Spaniard affirmed that Saka was OK, but he kept his cards close to his chest when asked whether he might consider dropping him from the first XI, saying: "Yeah, he's fine.

"Obviously, we haven't trained, we've recovered and have a short live session today to prepare for the game, and we'll see whether he's in the best condition to start or not. We're just thinking about Luton and preparing for the game in the best possible way and earn the right to beat them."

Arteta also insisted that fellow winger Gabriel Martinelli - who made his comeback from a foot issue as a late substitute on Sunday - would be fine to go the distance in midweek, adding: "He is because he was available to play against a really tough opponent three days ago. Again, we'll train today and see the state of every player and make the right decision tomorrow."

As a result, only ACL victim Jurrien Timber should be absent through injury this week, but Arteta is optimistic that the former Ajax man will return to first-team action before the campaign is over.

"I think he has a good chance. I don't know the percentage, but I think he has a good chance and he's going to push it as far as he possibly can. He's doing very well, he's back training. He's not far off, but the thing is that last step, he hasn't played any minutes so does he need a game with the under-21s, does he need two games?

Arsenal's Jurrien Timber comes off injured on August 12, 2023© Reuters

Who might replace Bukayo Saka against Luton?

"We are going to have to see, especially because he's training with us and we need to see how long that will take him. That last part is tricky and sometimes takes a while. Hopefully, as soon as possible."

With only Timber in the infirmary, Arteta should not be averse to making a handful of changes on Wednesday, although Saka was without a natural replacement on the right-hand side against Man City.

Reiss Nelson is the only real like-for-like swap in the right-wing position, but Saka's fellow Hale End graduate was one of three men left out of the squad to face Man City for tactical reasons, alongside Cedric Soares and Mohamed Elneny.

Instead, Martinelli held the fort on the right-hand side for the dying embers of the Etihad stalemate and could do so from the off here following Arteta's affirmations that he can last the full 90, although Fabio Vieira has also gleaned experience on the right-hand side.

Alternatively, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus - both of whom featured on the left on Easter Sunday - could swap flanks for Wednesday's game, where victory would take Arsenal back to the top of the table before Liverpool meet Sheffield United on Thursday.

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