Mikel Arteta hopes Bukayo Saka will be fit for the World Cup despite the England attacker being taken off injured during Arsenal’s win against Nottingham Forest.
Saka sustained several kicks to the leg early on at the Emirates Stadium, including a heavy challenge from Renan Lodi, and was treated by the medical staff before resuming playing. But the 21-year-old was in significant discomfort and was substituted after 27 minutes of Arsenal’s 5-0 victory.England’s squad must be named by 13 November with their first World Cup match against Iran eight days later. Saka’s injury scare is a potential blow for Arsenal – with a trip to Chelsea next Sunday – and England.
But Arteta was cautiously optimistic about the winger’s chances of a quick recovery. Saka will be assessed and the results of a scan are likely to be confirmed by midweek. When asked if Saka would struggle to make the England squad, Arteta said: “Hopefully not. It was a bad kick right from the beginning and he was limping. But I didn’t see anything further than that so let’s see how he is in the next couple of days. I think he got kicked a few times.”
Arsenal’s emphatic victory returned them to the top of the Premier League and was a strong response after their limp defeat against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday night. Arteta said: “Big teams have to respond and we did that after the disappointment of Thursday night. Not only physically and mentally, we had to be ready against a team that beat Liverpool.”
Forest’s hopes of following up their victory over Liverpool were quickly scuppered by a dominant Arsenal performance but Steve Cooper was critical of his team’s lack of application as they capitulated in the second half. He said: “We have to deal with it because we fell way short today of competing. We could have played really well and still got nothing. But the bare minimum is to stand up and be counted and be hard to beat.
“The start of the second half, we were nowhere near competitive enough. If you’re not going to do that at this level, you’re going to get hurt. To take more than a step back is really frustrating.”