Arsenal hope to have Bukayo Saka back vs Chelsea with 14 senior stars to be assessed


Arsenal will be assessing several first-team players ahead of their return to Premier League action against Chelsea on Saturday evening.

The first port of call is likely to be Bukayo Saka. The winger missed the 1-0 win over Manchester City with a hamstring injury sustained in the 2-1 loss to RC Lens in the Champions League a few days prior and a decision was made by Mikel Arteta to not risk the 22-year-old.

"He felt something and then you are tempted to risk him, but he was unable to train yesterday so that put him out of the game straight away," Arteta revealed. "It’s a blow not to have him but we have lost players in recent weeks and have adapted to it. He is a really important player, there is no question about that, but the team has to use the resources that we have to make it, even without him."

Arsenal did manage to beat the champions without Saka and the rest as a result of withdrawing from the England squad for their double-header against Australia and Italy may have done the winger the world of good. If passed fit, it's almost certain he will return to the matchday squad on Saturday.

Whether he joins William Saliba and Leandro Trossard in making the trip to Stamford Bridge remains to be seen. Both players also withdrew from international duty - with France and Belgium respectively - because of injury thus making them doubtful for the big London derby.

Having said that, football.londonunderstands the toe problem for the central defender isn't thought to be a serious one, so the hope is a period of rest was all he needed as his partnership at the back with Gabriel Magalhaes is going to be key to getting a positive result in west London.

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Speaking of Gabriel, he is one of 14 Arsenal players who were away on international duty. In fact, he along with Gabriel Jesus, Kai Havertz and Thomas Partey will be among the last batch to arrive back at London Colney as their respective nations were in action early this morning (Wednesday UK time).

A similar scenario last month affected preparations for the trip to Everton as Arteta didn't have much time with his players on the training pitch. Still, at least we know how the Gunners boss is likely to deal with the situation: "Today is the first time that we can do a little bit because for some players it was a lot to do as well," the Spaniard said in the pre-match press conference.

"So it's just managing that, we knew that from the start. Don't try to give them too much information and make sure that everybody is clear on what we're doing, why we're doing it and our way of playing. That's it."

Captain Martin Odegaard, Declan Rice, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Eddie Nketiah, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Jakub Kiwior, Karl Hein and Mohamed Elneny will be assessed too having featured during the international break, but David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale should be fresh having not played a single minute for Spain or England respectively.

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