Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he was confident Bukayo Saka will be fit to face Southampton on Sunday after the forward’s injury scare against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League, adding that Gabriel Martinelli is also expected to be available.
Saka has been ever-present this season, featuring in all 14 of Arsenal’s games in all competitions so far and starting 12 of them, scoring five goals while setting up another four.
The 21-year-old’s place in the starting line-up looked to be in jeopardy after he pulled up during Arsenal’s 1-0 win over PSV on Thursday and was substituted with five minutes remaining.
Martinelli, who missed training on Wednesday through illness, has been struggling with a slight calf issue but made a substitute appearance against PSV.
“I think Bukayo is fine, he was a bit struggling near the end but hopefully he will be fine for Sunday,” Arteta told reporters on Friday before Arsenal’s Premier League trip to St Mary’s.
“Martinelli had a tough week, he wasn’t feeling great during the week. But the day before the game he was already feeling better so that’s why we decided to play him a little bit.”
Arteta remained coy on the availability of Oleksandr Zinchenko as the Ukrainian continues to recover from a calf problem that has kept him sidelined since the win over Tottenham Hotspur at the start of this month.
“He is close, he was getting better and better before having a setback on the injury he had at the start of the season, which is a shame,” Arteta said.
League leaders Arsenal have 27 points from 10 games, while Southampton are 14th with 11 points from as many matches.
Southampton derailed Arsenal’s top-four push last season when they beat the north Londoners in April. Arteta was wary of the threat presented by Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side but also encouraged by Arsenal’s flying start to the season.
“It is an experience that was painful, especially with the way the game turned out and the consequences, so we know where the danger is with that team,” Arteta said.
“I am very positive – the win percentage is extremely high, the way we are performing is really good and we are in the position that we want to be. But it is a long, long season and we have to deserve to be there when it comes to May.”