Arsenal boss issues fitness update on Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, and Emile Smith Rowe ahead of Tottenham Hotspur clash
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta expects to properly use Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe in the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (15 January).
However, he will not have the same luck with regard to Gabriel Jesus. The Brazil striker continues his road to recovery after undergoing surgery on his knee following an injury he picked up at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Brazil.
Speaking in a pre-match interview (h/t official Arsenal website), the Spanish manager gave an update on Saka.
“I think he will be OK.”
With regards to the former Manchester City striker, he said:
“He’s progressing really well. He’s working really hard. He’s in the right place in his recovery regarding the time that we set for him, but he’s still a bit far [away] to be back.”
On Smith Rowe, Arteta added:
“It’s great to have him back. He felt good, they were his first minutes after four months. He’s worked so hard to be in the position he is today. Now we need to give him minutes and we need to get him back in the team because he’s a very important player for us.”
The English midfielder made a 15-minute cameo in the 3-0 win for his side against Oxford United in the third round of the FA Cup recently. Saka had an injury scare and was brought off in place of Smith Rowe in that game.
But the English duo is expected to play a role against Spurs. Smith Rowe could very well see himself on the bench considering his appearance against Oxford United was his first minutes since 4 September.
Jesus was anyway not going to be available for this clash given the extent of his knee injury in Qatar. Eddie Nketiah could take his place, as he has in the past few weeks to great effect, and we cannot take him lightly.
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He has scored four times since the season restarted after the World Cup. Spurs have injury concerns of their own. It remains to be seen if Rodrigo Bentancur, Richarlison, and Dejan Kulusevski have pleased manager Antonio Conte to a level where he trusts them to start against Arsenal after their respective injuries.