Arteta rates Saliba’s chances of returning from injury before the end of the season

Joe Williams
Arsenal defender William Saliba and Mikel Arteta hug

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta thinks centre-back William Saliba will be fit enough to play some part in the remainder of the season.

The Gunners face Leeds United on Saturday as they look to extend their eight-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, who host Liverpool a couple of hours earlier.

But Arsenal will have to beat Leeds without Saliba after he was forced off with a back injury in their Europa League defeat to Sporting Lisbon before the international break.

Giving an upate on Saliba’s progress, Arteta told a press conference: “He is progressing unfortunately he still has some discomfort in his back. He’s not gonna be fit for this game and we’re trying to do everything to feel better. But not yet.”

On whether Saliba will be back before the end of the season, the Arsenal boss replied: “Yeah I am very hopeful and he is as well. Back injuries are a bit tricky and how they evolve with the load that you put in certain areas. Let’s push it and see how he copes with that. He’s so willing to be back in the team.”

Gabriel Jesus, who missed around three months of the season with a knee injury, has played some part in the Gunners’ last three matches in all competitions and Arteta now feels the Brazilian is now “in a really good place” to contribute.

Arteta added: “He’s very close to that. In the last 10 days he’s made a big step forward. You can see he’s looser and not thinking about it. He’s creating that chaos in training. He’s in a really good place now.”

On the match against relegation-threatened Leeds, Arteta continued: “In particular, I think Leeds have a very clear DNA. They’ve been doing it for a long time. They are back right now and a very dangerous team. We discussed that openly and very clearly.”

Reflecting on winning another Manager of the Month award in the Premier League, Arteta said: “For sure. We needed results and performances. We got them in various ways. Some games we had to react and push ourselves to the limit in others we were really dominant and won the game with a bigger gap.”

When asked for his moment of the month, he replied: “Probably Reiss’ goal in that moment. That celebration and that hype. I’m especially pleased with the consistency the boys are showing.”

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