Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta makes ‘hospital’ comment with Saka record under threat

Arteta gives Arsenal team news update for Bournemouth trip

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says Bukayo Saka has done well to stay out of hospital due to some of his team-mates’ passing. Saka has featured in the Gunners’ last 86 Premier League matches but faces a battle to be fit for the trip to Bournemouth on Saturday after picking up an ankle injury in the closing stages of last Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.

“I think with experience he is recognising much better those situations where he could be injured and is exposing his body much less,” Arteta explained as he spoke about Saka. “The previous seconds before the action actually happens – that is something we are working on to protect his physique.

“It is not a coincidence. Your team sometimes plays you what I call ‘hospital balls’ – they give you a ball that can send you to hospital.

“They should not play those balls in those situations but sometimes it is the fault of the player passing the ball and sometimes the fault of the player receiving it, because it is a lack of activity in the previous seconds that exposes you.”

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Saka has been in imperious form this season and has bagged three goals and two assists in Arsenal’s first six Premier League matches. He has started every league encounter this season and also impressed during his side’s 4-0 thumping of PSV in the Champions League as he popped up with another goal and assist.

And Arteta has paid tribute to Saka’s mental edge, which has helped the player become one of the best attackers in European football. “If you want to be the player he wants to be, you have to have that mindset – to want to play every single minute at your best,” the Spaniard added as he prepares his side for the trip to the Vitality Stadium.

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“Don’t just be there, make a contribution to your team to win games. That has changed in him. The way he prepares himself, the way he is always talking to people, the demands he sets on himself, the support he has around him. He has a lot of those ingredients and who knows how long the run can go.

“We have to protect him, that is for sure. And we have to know when it is the right time to give him that rest. But there is something within him as well that is growing within him. That’s a really important part of his game.”

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