Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been playing Bukayo Saka “too much” over the past couple of seasons, according to former Gunners defender Mikael Silvestre.
The England international made his 86th consecutive Premier League appearance, which is a club record, in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw against Tottenham in the north London derby last weekend.
Saka picked up an injury towards the end of that fixture, missing their Carabao Cup third round win over Brentford on Wednesday, while he remains a doubt for their Premier League match against Bournemouth at the weekend.
Arsenal have already fallen four points behind leaders Manchester City in the title race and can’t afford to drop more points on Saturday at the Vitality Stadium.
But Silvestre has warned that risking Saka could impact their long-term goals with Arteta playing the Arsenal winger too much in recent times.
Silvestre told Betting Expert: “Bukayo Saka is playing too much. He plays in a position where he is sprinting a lot, and he is challenged a lot by the defenders. He has not been given enough rest.
“He needs to be given some rest if Arsenal wants him to be there in March and April, which is when the team will really be competing in the important games for the title and in the Champions League.
“But he might get tired at that time. We know how tough the schedule in England is, and he also plays with the international team as well.
“By the time he has to go to the Euro, two-thirds of his energy will be gone.
“It’s both physical and mentally. He needs to recharge the battery and recover to be on top every week.”
Arsenal legend Paul Merson reckons their match against Bournemouth at the weekend is a “must-win game” for Arteta’s side with Man City facing a trip to struggling Wolves.
Merson told Sportskeeda: “This is a must-win game for Arsenal considering they face Manchester City next weekend and I think they will get all three points at the Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth simply haven’t got going this season and are struggling to put points on the board, so I can’t see them getting anything out of this game.
“The Gunners rested a lot of players for the Carabao Cup clash against Brentford and still won 1-0, so their main players will be fit and raring to go this weekend. I know I was a bit bullish with my prediction ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur game last weekend, but the moment I saw the team sheet, I knew Spurs were in with a chance as Arsenal simply had too many injury issues.
“When Declan Rice went off injured at halftime, James Maddison gradually grew into the game and produced a fantastic display in the second half. Arsenal need Rice back as soon as possible, although I don’t know how long it’s going to take for him to return to full fitness. Prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal.”