Bukayo Saka absence explained as Arsenal without key men for Luton clash | Football | Sport

Bukayo Saka absence explained as Arsenal without key men for Luton clash | Football | Sport

Bukayo Saka was absent from the Arsenal squad that faced Luton on Wednesday night after picking up an injury in the goalless draw with Manchester City. The winger was replaced by Gabriel Martinelli in the second half after going down holding his ankle. Saka was given the night off against Luton to recover.

Manager Mikel Arteta explained: « He had to come off against Manchester City three days ago feeling something and he hasn’t been able to do everything that we needed to give him the chance to start the game. So we have decided not to play him. »

Arsenal made five changes to the starting XI that held the defending Premier League champions on Sunday. Thomas Partey came in for his first start since August. Emile Smith Rowe, Leandro Trossard, Reiss Nelson and Oleksandr Zinchenko were also handed a starting spot.

Jakub Kiwior, Jorginho, Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus dropped to the bench, while Saka missed out altogether.

On Partey’s return to the side, Arteta said: « He’s been missed big time. He is a massive player for us and brings qualities that we didn’t have into the team and with the others, they fully deserved it with the way that they trained and the way they try and impact the team in every single way. Whatever their role is, they deserve the chance then they get it today. »

Arsenal can temporarily leapfrog Liverpool to the top of the table by securing three points at the Emirates Stadium against Luton. But Martin Keown feels Jurgen Klopp‘s side are in the driving seat for the title.

He told TNT Sports: « I think the difference is they (City) could win every game, and still might not be champions. Liverpool have the points and you just look at their games and they look better. All three of them have got to play Spurs, they play them at home which is a big advantage.

« I think this weekend, if they can win against Sheffield United tomorrow night and then they have their away game against United, I would be going into that game saying to the group, if we beat Manchester United, we have finished our season in the FA Cup, we can be Premier League champions.

« I definitely do feel that. When you look at their fixtures, they want payback from that match (in the FA Cup) and they can use it, there is lots of motivation for many reasons. I just feel Liverpool now, having those two points ahead of Arsenal, makes them firm favourites. »

Cet article est apparu en premier en ANGLAIS sur https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1884617/Bukayo-Saka-Arsenal-Luton