Arsenal boosted by Saka return for Zurich clash

Saka was substituted in the first half of Sunday’s 5-0 Premier League win over Forest, but Arteta had played down suggestions that his chances of featuring in the World Cup were in doubt.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal warms up prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium on October 30, 2022 in London, England.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal warms up prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium on October 30, 2022 in London, England. | Photo Credit: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Saka was substituted in the first half of Sunday’s 5-0 Premier League win over Forest, but Arteta had played down suggestions that his chances of featuring in the World Cup were in doubt.

Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka will be available for Thursday’s Europa League Group A match against FC Zurich, manager Mikel Arteta said, allaying fears of a spell on the sidelines after the 21-year-old was forced off against Nottingham Forest.

Saka was substituted in the first half of Sunday’s 5-0 Premier League win over Forest, but Arteta had played down suggestions the England international’s chances of featuring in the November 20-December 18 World Cup were in doubt.

“Bukayo just missed one or two (training) sessions and he was fine today,” Arteta told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he will be available for selection when Arsenal hosts Zurich in its final Europa League group game.

Left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has not featured since October 1 due to a calf problem, also returned to training while Mohamed Elneny continued his recovery from a hamstring injury and could make his first appearance since August.

“They are in different stages,” Arteta added. “Mo had a long-term injury but he has recovered in a really good way and he has been training with the team for a week or two now.

“(Zinchenko) is very recent and (did) just two training sessions.”

Arsenal, which has qualified for the knockout stage, will secure the top spot in Group A and an automatic place in the last 16 if it matches PSV Eindhoven’s result against Bodo/Glimt.

PSV inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Arsenal last week to guarantee a top-two finish and end the hosts’ perfect Europa League start.

The group winners secure an automatic last-16 spot while the runners-up face one of the third-placed teams dropping down from the Champions League in a two-legged playoff tie in February.

Group A leader Arsenal has 12 points from five games, two more than PSV in second. Zurich is bottom with three points.

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