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Mikel Arteta provides Bukayo Saka injury update after Arsenal’s draw with Crystal Palace
19/10/2021 11:10:25

Mikel Arteta said Bukayo Saka was ‘very sore’ in the wake of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace and blasted the decision to keep James McArthur on the field after his foul on the youngster.

Saka was chopped down from behind while clearing the ball in the 43rd minute and the forward initially tried to shake off the injury before Albert Sambi Lokonga came on in his place at the halfway stage at the Emirates.

Palace midfielder McArthur was shown a yellow card for the foul and the video assistant referee stuck with Mike Dean’s on-field call despite Arteta’s calls for a harsher punishment.

The young England international watched the remainder of the match from the bench as goals from Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard looked set to hand Patrick Vieira’s Palace victory after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener.

But second-half substitute Alexandre Lacazette rescued a point for the Gunners in the fifth minute of stoppage time which had Vieira pounding the ground in frustration.

Asked for an update on Saka’s condition after the final whistle, Arteta told Sky Sports: ‘We had to take him off because he could not continue.

‘He was very sore in the area. When I look at the action I cannot understand how the player can continue to play.’

Pressed on whether McArthur should have been sent off, the Spaniard replied: ‘Absolutely.’

At his post-match press conference, Arteta was unable to confirm whether Saka would be fit to take on Aston Villa on Friday.

‘We’ll see how it evolves,’ the Arsenal head coach said.

‘He could not continue and he’s a boy that is pretty tough and wants to keep playing, but he could not carry on.

‘We have a quick turnaround after the next game so we will see how it evolves.’

Arteta criticised his players for lacking ‘composure’ and game management after Aubameyang fired them in front in the eighth minute in north London.

‘It was a strange game. We started really well, we were dominant and we scored the goal,’ the Spaniard added.

‘After that we lacked composure to manage the game. We didn’t have a sequence of passes and then the team was stretched.

‘After half-time we changed a couple of things and we got better but we gave the ball away in areas you can’t and after that we gave a mountain to climb.

‘Credit they didn’t give up, we had some big chances and then got the goal in the end.

‘My perception was we were trying to protect something instead of going for the second one. We were not comfortable.’

Vieira felt his team were ‘really unlucky’ and deserved to come away from the Emirates with all three points.

‘It was so close but we have been saying that a little bit too often. We have to learn from the games we played previously,’ the ex-Arsenal captain said.

‘I am really disappointed because the way the team came back in the second half, they deserved to win the game.

‘I am frustrated for them, they were brave and showed character and to concede a goal like that I am disappointed for my players.

‘We conceded those goals on set pieces on the second phases and we need to work on that. We have to put our sleeves up and put our bodies on the line.

‘We were really unlucky today, it is the way it is but I believe there is more to come from the team to challenge even better.’

Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher produced another eye-catching performance for Palace, but claimed the draw ‘felt worse than a defeat’ in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

‘It’s horrible, honestly, it’s so horrible,’ he said.

‘To come back from 1-0 down at Arsenal is great isn’t it? To hold on until the last 30 seconds is just horrible. We’re gutted.

‘It feels worse than a defeat – if it’s possible. Nothing’s worse than thinking you’ve got three points and to have it taken away from you. We need to learn from little mistakes.

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