Arsenal were in action on Monday, taking on Oxford United in the FA Cup 3rd round. However, while the focus was on securing progression in England's prestigious cup competition, fans had one eye on the Gunners' upcoming Premier League fixture.
Arteta's men, who currently top the table with a five-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, will face bitter rivals Tottenham this weekend in a crucial tie. In fact, this is merely one tricky game among a list of difficult fixtures over the next 30 days, with the league leaders set to also face Manchester United, Brentford, and Manchester City twice – once in the league and once in the FA Cup – between now and February 15.
As a result, when Bukayo Saka limped off the pitch with an apparent injury during the 3-0 victory over Oxford, Arsenal fans were understandably sent into utter despair over the possibility of losing their star man amid this hectic period.
Due to the Gunners' lack of depth, the English talent was forced to start in this FA Cup fixture as the London giants wished to avoid back-to-back 3rd round exits. Unfortunately, after receiving a few rough tackles, the 21-year-old eventually dropped to the floor in the second half and could not complete the game.
After receiving medical treatment, the Hale End academy graduate limped off the pitch and was replaced by Emile Smith Rowe, the talented youngster returning from injury. However, it wasn't evidently clear whether Bukayo picked up a serious or short-term issue.
As a result, Mikel Arteta was quizzed on this topic after the final whistle and while the Spaniard did not confirm his winger's availability for this weekend's North London Derby, the manager offered the update Arsenal fans wanted to hear.
When asked by ITV Sport how the Three Lions ace was doing, Mikel offered a two-word relief. "He's fine," the Spanish tactician promptly replied.
Saka still trudging round the pitch as Arsenal celebrate the third goal. Ben White has a quick word. pic.twitter.com/0YrPZku7db— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 9, 2023
Nonetheless, it should be noted that Bukayo's availability for the trip to Tottenham will only be confirmed over the next few days, hence why the manager simply addressed his injury. Regardless, Arsenal look to have avoided the worst following that Saka scare.