Will William Saliba and Granit Xhaka be fit to face Manchester City?
The Arsenal duo both missed last Friday’s draw with Southampton but have been key to the Gunners’ good form this season.
Mikel Arteta has given an update on the fitness of William Saliba and Granit Xhaka ahead of Wednesday’s crucial Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Arsenal’s incredible form for the first six months of this season was built on a bedrock of consistency in the starting XI that brought a real rhythm to their play. But in recent months injuries have upset their momentum and they could be without two key players at the Etihad Stadium.
Here’s what Arteta had to say about his injured stars in a pre-match press conference on Tuesday...
William Saliba ruled out for another week
The news that all Arsenal fans were dreading; William Saliba will not be involved against Man City, Arteta confirmed on Tuesday.
The French defender has been out since picking up a back injury in the Europa League defeat to Sporting CP.
“There’s not been a real improvement unfortunately on him so we’re still waiting,” Arteta said. “We’re still hopeful but another week has gone by and he hasn’t been able to play.”
“At the moment we don’t have him and we’re preparing this game without him. Probably the next game (Chelsea) will come too soon as well.”
If Saliba misses both games that will extend his spell on the sidelines to seven matches, a crucial absence at a key point of the season.
Arsenal could be without Granit Xhaka
There are few players as transformed by Arteta’s time at the club as Granit Xhaka, the combative midfielder whose relationship with Arsenal fans once appeared irreparably damaged.
He featured in all of Arsenal’s first 31 league matches this season, starting all but two, until being left out of the squad to face Southampton after picking up an illness. It was hoped that his absence would be brief but Arteta admitted on Tuesday that he will have to take a late decision on Xhaka’s place in the team to play City.
“Granit has been out. Hopefully he’ll be able to train today but he’s still a doubt,” the Arsenal boss said.
If the Swiss midfielder is unable to play from the start Arteta may opt to field Jorginho in his place. Fabio Viera started last Friday’s draw with Southampton but was substituted before the hour mark. Jorginho’s experience and calmness on the ball could be vital if Arsenal are to win at the Etihad.