Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted that Ben White and Bukayo Saka will both need assessing ahead of Thursday’s North London derby with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
White has missed Arsenal’s last two games with a tight hamstring, with Rob Holding deputising at the back in the Gunners’ recent wins over West Ham United and Leeds United.
Meanwhile, Saka was forced off after 68 minutes of action against the Whites at the weekend, although he was not thought to have sustained anything serious.
However, Arteta has now conceded that the duo are not guaranteed to be fit for Thursday’s crunch clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey will watch on from the sidelines.
“Thomas (Partey) is still out, Kieran (Tierney) is still out and with Ben he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better. With Bukayo it’s the same,” Arteta told reporters at his pre-match press conference.
Elaborating on Saka and White, Arteta added: “It’s very difficult to rate with injuries, it’s just how they feel today, that’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling, basically.”
Arsenal enter Thursday’s derby four points clear of Antonio Conte’s side in fourth place, meaning that a win will guarantee their spot in the Champions League for the 2022-23 season.
Not since the 2015-16 season have Arsenal finished in the top four of the Premier League table, and Arteta believes that Thursday’s game presents his “most exciting” challenge of his managerial career so far.
“It’s the most exciting one, probably. But we had others when we played finals against Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup and the Community Shield, it was the same,” Arteta added.
“When you have the opportunity to achieve one of your objectives in the season, you just cannot wait to play the game because this is a job, and the work you have done throughout the season to try to earn it.
“The message is clear, if we win against them we are in the Champions League next season. You don’t need any motivation or to tell them anything more than that.
“The opportunity is there, we are going to play and go for it like we always do It’s how we have got into this position, and it’s how we are going to approach it.”