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Mikel Arteta offers injury update on ‘decisive’ Bukayo Saka

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Mikel Arteta predicted Bukayo Saka will “fly” during Arsenal’s Premier League run-in but the England winger could be a doubt to face Brighton on Saturday.

The 22-year-old missed his side’s 2-0 win over Luton on Wednesday that briefly returned them to the top of the table before being knocked back into second by Liverpool ahead of the weekend’s visit to the Amex Stadium.

A muscle injury sustained during the goalless draw at Manchester City meant Saka missed a league game for just the second time this season, with Reiss Nelson deputising as Arteta’s side made it nine wins from their last 10 in the title race.

Saka has scored 16 goals in all competitions as Arsenal seek to erase the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League title last term by pipping Liverpool and Manchester City this time around.

“I’m super positive,” Arteta said of Saka’s prospects of making a decisive impact. “I think he’s going to fly and be so decisive.

“He’s so strong, how much he wants it. How excited he is about what is coming. He wants to be there, and he’s getting better and better.

“It’s normal to have little niggles, you have kicks. He’s gone through a lot of that in the last two or three years, and look at the way he is performing.”

Arteta gave a third start of the season to Emile Smith Rowe against Luton. Injuries have badly disrupted the development of the 23-year-old academy graduate, who was brought into the first team around the same time as Saka but has suffered a number of setbacks.

Emile Smith Rowe impressed against Luton (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

He was given the number 10 shirt previously worn by Dennis Bergkamp, and on Wednesday showed flashes of the promise that once made him such an exciting prospect at Arsenal.

“I look at him and what happened in the last two or three seasons,” said Arteta. “Take all that. It’s the best thing that could have happened for him in his career, if you use it the right way now.

“Don’t look back and say ‘if’. If this happened, use it. ‘It was the best thing that could have happened. I had great moments, I had difficult moments – now I know what I want and it’s going to make me a much better player’.

“It’s a hell of a player that we have when he is fit and he’s playing at that level.”

Arteta added that he hoped his team are coming close to acquiring the same aura enjoyed by the 2003/04 Invincibles, Arsenal’s last title-winning side.

The 42-year-old played against the then reigning champions in May 2005 during a 7-0 defeat for Everton at Highbury.

“I’ve been in the tunnel playing in a different shirt and looking at the Invincibles,” he said. “You had a feeling tonight is going to be really tough. Hopefully we can create that.”

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