Mikel Arteta insists he has no qualms about the playing time Bukayo Saka is getting ahead of England’s World Cup campaign this season.
Saka has started all but two of Arsenal’s 14 games this season and is virtually always present in the manager’s Premier League.
The 21-year-old was again in the starting XI for Thursday night’s Europa League clash against PSV Eindhoven and played 85 minutes at the Emirates despite suffering a slight second-half stroke.
With England’s season in Qatar quickly coming into focus and their first group game against Iran just a month away, Saka’s fitness will be closely monitored by the fans and Gareth Southgate.
But Arteta insists he has no qualms about starting Saka in every game and insists top players must be accused of playing “70 games a season”.
“Look at the best players in the world, they play 70 games every three days and make the difference and win the game,” Arteta said after the 1-0 win over PSV, with Granit Xhaka scoring the only goal of the game .
“You want to be at the top, you have to be able to do that. And if we start putting something else on a young player’s mind, then I think we’re making a big mistake [he would] be like ‘no, I’m not playing now, I’m not playing on artificial grass.
“I dont want that. I want them to be ruthless every three days. I want them knocking on my door (saying) ‘I want to play, I want to win the game’
He added: “There isn’t a fitness trainer in the world who tells me they can’t because I’ve seen it. 72 games and scored 50 goals.
“The players who score 50 goals don’t play 38 games a season, it’s just impossible.”
Shortly after Xhaka’s goal, Saka saw his own attempt thwarted after he stormed past PSV defenders and received a kick in the calf before completing his shot.
The winger was treated and seen briefly limping after the incident, but Arteta said there were no major concerns over the knock.
When asked about Saka’s injury, Arteta said: “Yeah, he got kicked, he was limping a bit but hopefully he’ll be fine.”
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