Arsenal managed to see off Aston Villa yesterday thanks to a goal from Bukayo Saka but Mikel Arteta seemed a relieved man to get to the international break.
The Gunners have been in fine form recently as they’ve played catch up on some fixtures and still managed to maintain their push for a top four spot. Yesterday’s win felt a big one, with a trip to Villa Park never easy for anyone.
Before the game, Arteta had lost both Gabi Martinelli and Aaron Ramsdale to injury, while he was relying on other regulars to put in one more shift before the break. And according to the Arsenal manager, goalscorer Saka was one of the players who was struggling from fatigue and tiredness.
“He was really fatigued as well, against Liverpool he had an issue with his hip, he’s played a lot of minutes and you could tell and we don’t want to risk it. He needs to go away with England now and we decided that the best thing to do was take him off,” Arteta said of Saka after the game.
The Gunners will be fine in their push for the top four but Saka is going to crucial for them in reaching that objective.
On that front, then, it makes sense for Arteta to keep Saka as fresh as he can and protect him. The Gunners star took a bit of a battering from Villa’s players yesterday but stood up to the test well and produced the game winning moment.
For Saka now, it’s all about not overdoing it with England. Arsenal need him, and he knows it.