Mikel Arteta told the Arsenal star he 'needs' to play vs Bournemouth despite injury crisis


Paul Merson has stressed to Mikel Arteta the importance of one Arsenal star ahead of the Gunners trip to Bournemouth. Despite a promising start to the Premier League season, concern is prominent at Emirates Stadium with Arsenal appearing to be in the midst of an injury crisis which could see eight senior stars absent on Saturday.

The likes of Thomas Partey, Jurrien Timber and Gabriel Martinelli were already on the injury list ahead of the weekend and they have been joined by multiple team-mates. Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka head up the new list of doubts and that duo are joined by William Saliba, Fabio Vieira and Leandro Trossard.

However, spotted arriving with the team on the south coast was Saliba, Saka and Rice which hints they will at the very least be involved in the matchday squad. All three are core members of Arteta's favoured starting XI, although Merson has made it perfectly clear to Arteta the one player he needs back as soon as possible.

"The Gunners rested a lot of players for the Carabao Cup clash against Brentford and still won 1-0, so their main players will be fit and raring to go this weekend," Merson wrote in his Sportskeeda predictions column. "I know I was a bit bullish with my prediction ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur game last weekend, but the moment I saw the team sheet, I knew Spurs were in with a chance as Arsenal simply had too many injury issues."

"When Declan Rice went off injured at halftime, James Maddison gradually grew into the game and produced a fantastic display in the second half. Arsenal need Rice back as soon as possible, although I don't know how long it's going to take for him to return to full fitness."

The 24-year-old came off in the North London Derby because of discomfort in his back and a high level of precaution will likely be taken with the issue. Last season William Saliba had a problem in a similar area meaning Arsenal and their medical department are fully aware of how bad a back problem can be and potentially how long a player will miss.

READ MORE: Saka, Saliba, Rice - Arsenal injury news and return dates before Bournemouth clash

READ MORE: Arsenal full 20-man squad revealed for Bournemouth with Declan Rice worry and Bukayo Saka boost

With Partey also injured, Jorginho will be the player to start in the holding role if Rice is not risked ahead of a Champions League game and crucial clash against Manchester City. The Italy international came on for Rice last weekend and made a significant error that led to Son Heung-min's second equaliser, but he showed he is capable of filling the role with a strong display against Brentford in the Carabao Cup.

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