Mikel Arteta has praised Bucayo Saka’s ability to recover from a long-term injury and says his team must protect the Arsenal winger.
Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Bournemouth on Saturday, the 22-year-old has started the club’s last 86 Premier League games.
But the Englishman, who came on as a substitute in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham, was substituted through injury and missed Wednesday’s 1-0 Carabao Cup win at Brentford.
The manager praised Sakka’s physical consistency.
“I spoke about this a year ago,” Arteta said. “That’s his mentality. If you want to be the player he wants to be, you have to have that mentality – to want to play well every minute. Don’t just be there, contribute to your team to win games.
“It’s changed in him. The way he prepares himself, the way he always talks to people, the questions he asks himself, the support around him. He has a lot of those elements and who knows how long the race will be. He can go.
“We have to wait for him, that’s for sure. And we have to know when it’s the right time to give him a break. But there’s something about him that’s growing. That’s a very important part of his game.”
Arteta says he has escaped serious injury trouble despite missing training as Saka travels to Bournemouth for tomorrow’s game with Dylan Rice and William Saliba.
He added: “I think with experience he’s realizing the situations where he can get hurt better and he’s exposing his body a little bit more.” In the seconds before the action actually takes place – and that’s what we’re doing to protect the body.
“It’s not an accident. Sometimes your team plays what I call “hospital balls” – they give you a ball that can send you to the hospital. In those situations, they shouldn’t play those balls, but sometimes it’s the player’s mistake. Passing the ball and sometimes the player’s reception is wrong because of the lack of movement in the last seconds. It exposes you.
Arteta confirmed that Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard have both been unable to train and are injury doubts ahead of Saturday’s trip to Vitality.