Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Bukayo Saka was withdrawn during Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham in the north London derby due to a hamstring injury.
The Gunners dominated Sunday’s match at the Emirates and after going behind against the run of play following an outrageous rabona goal from Erik Lamela, rallied to level the scores just before the interval through Martin Odegaard.
At half-time, substitute Nicolas Pepe was seen being put through his paces on the pitch and Saka did not emerge from the tunnel, with the Ivorian coming on in his place.
While Arsenal were delighted to get one over their local rivals, Saka’s injury – particularly at such a crucial point of the season – was the only real sour note on an otherwise excellent evening.
Asked if Saka’s half-time withdrawal was an injury or a tactical decision, Arteta said at his post-match press conference:
‘No, it was an injury.’ Asked how serious the injury is, Arteta replied: ‘We don’t know. He was feeling his hamstring so we don’t know how bad it is.’
Arsenal’s win still leaves them in tenth place in the Premier League table, four points behind Spurs, but Arteta was thrilled with his side’s performance and will look to build on it now.
Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: ‘We had a really strong performance right from the beginning, we created many chances and went a goal down with their first shot.
‘But I love the reaction of the team, we stayed composed and in the end we won the game.
‘Scoring before half-time was really important as it put us in a good position for the second half.
‘We scored the second goal, we got a bit nervy in the final 10 minutes and that is one of the things we need to improve as a team.’
Skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left out of the starting XI after turning up late for the match, but Arteta wants to draw a line under the incident, adding:
‘As I said before the game, I draw the line, it’s done, we move on and enjoy this victory.’