Why injured Bukayo Saka has joined Arsenal squad for PSV clash after missing training


Bukayo Saka was told to hop on the Arsenal plane heading to Eindhoven to face PSV despite missing training with a foot injury as Mikel Arteta fights to keep his team spirit intact. The defeat to Aston Villa after five successive wins came as something of a shock at the weekend and cost Arsenal their top spot in the Premier League.

There is no danger of that happening in Europe, however, with a group winner’s spot already secured. But even though Saka has been struggling with injury of late, Arteta has come to the Netherlands with all his big names in tow.

“We have five or six big injuries so we are already a bit thin,” he said. “I don't know in another context what I would have done but I also want everyone together with the mentality to win. I want to see that in their tummies.

“The job technically is done but the job is not completely done. It is our duty as representatives of Arsenal to win every game and to give a big performance against a team that is going to make things very difficult as they have shown the past two years. And Bukayo is fine.”

Gabriel Martinelli did miss the flight through illness but is not expected to be out for long. On the plus side, among the internationals jetting out was Emile Smith Rowe - as the England player makes his latest tentative return to the side having last played in October.

A recent knee injury picked up nine weeks ago after he had struggled with a persistent groin injury last season has intensified the frustration over the time spent on the sidelines. Ironically, he had been given a standing ovation by Arsenal fans in the reverse fixture in September when they thought he was over the worse.

But Arteta maintains that ability that earned him three caps and a goal for Gareth Southgate in 2021 is still within him. “What he’s been through is part of the experience that 90 per cent of footballers have to go through, which is difficulties, injuries, setbacks and different types of performances now,” Arteta explained.

“That’s all in his bag now. If he can use that in a powerful way he’ll be a much better player. The way he’s done his rehab I haven’t seen him do it before like how he’s done it this time.

“You see the way his team-mates reacted to his comeback which is really positive as well. The moment we can give him chances the better we’re going to be.”

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