Arteta uncertain about Saliba’s involvement in remaining season games

    Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits it’s too early to tell if William Saliba will be able to play again this season.

    The French centre-back has been absent from all of Arsenal’s last four matches after suffering a back injury in the first half of the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 against Sporting CP last month, sending the Gunners out on penalties. .

    There was hope that Saliba’s recovery sped up when he was seen on a stationary bike in training earlier this week, but such optimism appears to have been misjudged.

    Saliba will definitely not play Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Friday and now there appears to be a chance he won’t be playing again this season for the Premier League leaders.

    And with only a four-point lead over Manchester City, having played a game more, the Gunners need all the help they can get.

    “No big news, the picture has not changed since last week. As for William, we still have to wait a bit. He is not progressing as fast as we hoped,” Arteta told reporters.

    “It’s delicate and we want to be very sure when we push him that he’s ready to take on the load and the risk that we’re going to take.

    “At the moment it’s impossible to do that.”

    Arteta was then asked if Saliba could miss the remaining weeks of the season as the coach failed to reassure the fans.

    “I don’t know. It’s too early to do (come to such conclusions),” he continued.

    “Probably next week we will have more confidence. There is some evolution going on – he has become more active, but he is not yet ready to throw him on the field at the level that our training requires to compete in this league.

    Arteta also had some bad news regarding Oleksandr Zinchenko.

    The Ukraine international was out of last weekend’s 2-2 draw with West Ham with a groin strain and despite reports that he is likely to be ready for the Saints, those claims now look unfaithful.

    “We will look into this as well. It’s not certain,” Arteta added. “It’s a muscle injury and it takes time to heal, and we haven’t reached that yet.”

    Arsenal’s next game after the Saints visit is a trip to Manchester City on Wednesday, a game that could very well decide the fate of the title.

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