Mikel Arteta sprung a surprise with his team selection for Arsenal’s must-win Premier League clash with Leeds United on Saturday with starting on the bench.
The newly crowned Player of the Month for March played almost 180 minutes for England during the international break, enhancing his ever-burgeoning reputation with a man of the match display against last Sunday.
Saka appeared to have come through unscathed and trained with his teammates on Thursday, but missed Friday’s session through illness.
, who had been in fine form in recent weeks himself, started in place of Saka while Gabriel Jesus made his first start up front in the league since November.
Explaining his team selection, Arteta said: ‘He wasn’t able to train yesterday as he wasn’t well but today he feels a little bit better so we’ve put Gabby in.
‘He brings a lot of energy, quality, movement and chaos. He’s a player we’ve been missing and it’s good to have him back.’
Elsewhere, Rob Holding against deputised for William Saliba who is still to recover from the back injury he sustained in the Europa League defeat against Sporting Lisbon.
Arsenal could ill-afford a slip-up against relegation threatened Leeds, who themselves were without Wlfired Gnonto and Tyler Adams, after Manchester City thrashed Liverpool 4-1 in the early kick-off.
The visitors had taken the lead against the run of play through Mohamed Salah but Julian Alvarez, standing in for Erling Haaland, tied the game up before half and the champions ran away with it during the second half.
Kevin de Bruyne put City ahead immediately after the re-start and further goals from Ilkay Gundogan and man of the match Jack Grealish widened the margin of victory.
‘They’re a great team and it’s in their hands at the moment,’ said Grealish when asked if City could chase down the long-time leaders. ;’We’re going to keep doing everything we can to chase them.’
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