Mikel Arteta confirms William Saliba has been unable to train and will miss Arsenal’s crunch clash with Man City in the Premier League title race… while Granit Xhaka remains a doubt
Mikel Arteta has confirmed William Saliba will miss Arsenal’s crunch clash with Manchester City in a game that could determine the destination of the Premier League title.
Mail Sport revealed on Monday that Arsenal have concerns over Saliba’s lower back injury amid serious ‘structural damage’ which could result in a long-term lay off if he plays again this season.
Arteta has confirmed Saliba will be absent from the Gunners next two matches against Man City and Chelsea, but would not be drawn on whether the Frenchman will feature again this season.
Key midfielder Granit Xhaka also remains a doubt after missing Arsenal’s 3-3 draw with Southampton on Friday.
‘There has not been real improvement on him [Saliba],’ Arteta said.
William Saliba will miss Arsenal’s key match against Manchester City on Wednesday night
Granit Xhaka remains a doubt after missing the draw with Southampton due to an illness
‘It is another week that has gone by and he has not been able to train with the team.
‘At the moment we don’t have him. The [Chelsea] game will come too close.
‘Granit has been out, hopefully he will be able to train today. He is still a doubt.’
Saliba, 22, has missed Arsenal’s past five matches after hurting his back in last month’s Europa League defeat by Sporting.
Arsenal have conceded nine goals in those matches, with Arteta’s side drawing at Liverpool and West Ham despite taking 2-0 leads.
The Gunners were able to stage a late fightback to earn a point against Southampton, despite conceding three goals to the Premier League’s bottom side.
The nature of Saliba’s injury has not been fully communicated, but sources have told Mail Sport that the back problem is linked to painful ‘structural damage’ to his lower back.
The damage has caused concern to one of his lumbar discs, although the club insist his prolonged absence is not as a result of a disc problem.
The defender has been desperate to play again to help his team in the title race, with Arsenal managing his recovery on a day-to-day basis.
Mikel Arteta claimed the clash with Man City was not a title decider regardless of the outcome
Arsenal will be hoping Xhaka recovers in time to feature against Man City.
The Swiss midfielder was left out of the squad against Southampton after feeling ill on the morning of Friday’s game, having previously been an ever-present in Arsenal’s title chasing team.
Arteta played down suggestions Wednesday’s match could be a title decider, but admitted victory against the defending champions would significantly boost Arsenal’s prospects of a first Premier League title since 2004.
‘No, if we win tomorrow we have not won the league,’ Arteta said.
‘It will shift probably the percentage, but five games in this league is very tricky still.’
Arsenal hold a five-point lead over Man City heading into the match, although Pep Guardiola’s side have two games in hand.