Arsenal defender William Saliba is still not fully fit after suffering a back injury which has kept him away from training but striker Gabriel Jesus is nearly back to his best, manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday.
Saliba has not played since he came off during their Europa League penalty shootout loss to Sporting Lisbon before the international break. The Frenchman has made 27 league starts this season and has been a crucial member in guiding Arsenal to the top of the standings.
“He is progressing, unfortunately he still has some discomfort in his back. We are trying to manage him in the best possible way,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Saturday’s home game against Leeds United.
“Unfortunately he’s not going to be fit for this game. We’re trying and he’s trying to do everything to feel better and get back training, but not yet.
“Back injuries are a bit tricky and how they evolve with the load that you put in certain areas. He’s very positive and the medical staff are positive about it.”
Brazilian striker Jesus made his long-awaited return from knee surgery earlier this month and Arteta said he was “very close” to 100%.
“In the last 10 days, he has really made a big step forward, you can see that he is looser and not thinking about it (the injury),” Arteta said.
“He is creating the chaos in training that he’s capable of, he’s in a really good place now.”
Leeds has climbed out of the relegation zone to move up to 14th since Javi Gracia took charge in February and Arteta was wary of the threat it poses as Arsenal looks to keep Manchester City at bay in the title race.
With 10 rounds left, City is eight points behind although Pep Guardiola’s side has a game in hand.
“Leeds have a very particular DNA, how they behave, the character and the passion and energy they play with, they have been doing it for a long time,” Arteta said.
“Now with a new manager, new ideas and players back from injuries, they are a very dangerous team. We have discussed that openly and we are going to have be very good to beat them.
“He (Gracia) is a good coach - really, really dedicated, thoughtful and really clear in the way his team wants to play... he’s very adaptable.”
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