Arteta urges Arsenal to ‘refocus’ on Prem; provides injury update on trio

Date published: Thursday 31st March 2022 2:20 - Jason Soutar

Mikel Arteta during an interview

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has urged his players to switch their focus back to the Premier League following the conclusion of the international break.

The Gunners are favourites to finish inside in fourth ahead of Tottenham, West Ham and Manchester United.

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Arteta has now expressed his duty to “refocus” his squad after many players returned from international duty.

“I will have them all today so just try to refocus them,” he said (via Football London). “When they go to international duties they’re asked do different things and have different roles. So now we have to make sure that everybody is fine.

“The majority had really good experiences and scored some great goals as well. Really sad for Mo Elneny because it’s the second time.”

The Spaniard provided an update on Bukayo Saka, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Aaron Ramsdale.

“Bukayo is feeling good. He’s training today hopefully and Aaron it’s a doubt. He hasn’t trained yet so we don’t know what he’ll be able to do on Monday.

“I think he [Tomiyasu] will be close. He’s been training more and more. He’ll be joining some sessions this week so let’s see how his injury is.

“He had a recurring injury but in the other calf which was strange and difficult to predict. He’s been through a lot in the last two years with the amount of games he’s played and Covid. Hopefully we can find the reason so it doesn’t happen again.”

It has been reported that Arsenal are in talks with Saka over a new deal, with his current contract expiring in 2024.

On negotiations, Arteta said: “We are extremely happy with Bukayo. We are never going to share any conversations relating to private contracts but we are very pleased with him.”

Saka – who hasn’t missed a Premier League game for Arsenal this season – was recently told to toughen up by Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard after he complained of Villa players kicking him.

“Sometimes when a player is in a good moment you don’t want to stop it,” the Gunners boss continued. “He had some time to rest and recover and hopefully can rediscover that form.

“I think Bukayo said that he’s not going to complain and he wanted some consistency and that’s all. The only people that can protect the player is the referee. I think we have to protect our best players and that’s in the hands of the refs.”

Following the criticism of Arsenal’s celebrations, Arteta said: “I don’t tell the players to celebrate or not. It’s something that comes from them. When I see them hugging each other, celebrating with the fans, for me it’s great. They have to celebrate, of course. When they win they have to celebrate of course.”

Arteta on five substations being allowed in the Premier League from the start of 2022/23: “I’m glad that at the end we have unified with the whole of Europe. There will be some changes because that gives you different opportunities and it helps you manage the load of the players.”

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