Mikel Arteta faces Bukayo Saka dilemma as Ian Wright raises fears

Arteta reflects as Arsenal return to top of Premier League

Arsenal icon Ian Wright has urged Mikel Arteta to give Bukayo Saka a well-earned rest in order to maximise his impact over the course of the Premier League run-in before the season draws to a close at the end of this month. The England winger has played a hugely important role for Arsenal since the beginning of the campaign, having started in all but one of their Premier League matches while chipping in with 13 goals and 11 assists.

Saka has carried Arsenal’s title charge at times over the last few months but is currently experiencing a subdued run of form, with the 21-year-old having scored just once in his last six Premier League appearances. He is likely to take up his usual starting position for the Gunners when they face Newcastle United away from home on Sunday evening, although Wright believes that he could benefit from being taken out of the firing line at some point in the not-too-distant future.

“Maybe Saka should get a little bit of a rest,” said Wright on the Wrighty’s House podcast. “I think a little rest. Maybe my mouth is going too quickly for my brain, in this situation we can’t afford to lose any more games. We need everybody out there, but I just worry, I worry for him.”

Arsenal will be desperately hoping to beat Newcastle on the weekend in order to revive their fading Premier League title hopes, with Manchester City now a point clear at the top of the division having played a game less than their north London rivals. It remains to be seen whether Saka will be rested by Arteta for Sunday’s crunch clash, although it would certainly be a surprise to see him left out given his importance over the course of the season as a whole.

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The Gunners will need to win all of their remaining matches to stand any chance of being crowned champions, but even that will not be enough if City manage to avoid dropping any points in their last five games.

Wright, meanwhile, went on to snub Saka by naming Martin Odegaard as his player of the season for Arsenal as a result of the latter’s consistently impressive performances in the middle of the park. He said: “I was delighted [to sign Odegaard], I couldn’t believe we got him on loan in the first place.

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“When he came back, if we could get him again because of his pedigree, what he’s capable of, his ability. The fact he’s captain now, it’s not like he’s been at the club for many years, but being captain and leading by example, and chipping in with that many goals, he’s been unbelievable.

“I think he’s been our player of the season, if I’m being totally honest. William Saliba was on that track but obviously being injured, Odegaard’s consistency through the whole season has been absolutely tremendous for us.”

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