Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg slams Mikel Arteta decision

4 October 2023 - 8:12 am

Freddie Ljungberg admits he is worried about an Arsenal side lining up against Manchester City this weekend without Bukayo Saka.

The in-form winger has been nursing an injury for the best part of a month but has hardly been given any form of a break by his manager Mikel Arteta.

Saka surprisingly stretched his run of consecutive Premier League starts to an astonishing 87 matches last weekend in a 4-0 victory against Bournemouth but was forced off early with another knock.

The 22-year-old was surprisingly selected to start against Lens last night, but the decision backfired after Saka was forced off in the 34 minute.

And Ljungberg, who coached the England international during the formative stages of his career, feels Arteta’s failure to manage Saka’s minutes was always likely to backfire.

He told CBS Sports: ‘Looking at this makes all the Arsenal fans a little bit worried. He was touching the back of his hamstring.

‘I have been a little bit like rest him a little bit. I felt he’s played a bit too much. He’s still young and you say they can run as much as they can when they’re young.

‘Rest him! He’s the most important player give him a break sometimes. I’m a bit worried for Arsenal at the weekend and how they’re going to play without him.’

Asked for a prognosis on Saka after a 2-1 defeat which has left Champions League Group B wide open, Arteta said: ‘He tried to backheel the ball in the first-half and felt something, it was something muscular and he was uncomfortable to carry on so we had to take him off.

‘We don’t know anything more than that, obviously it was big enough not to allow him to continue to play the game and that’s obviously a worry for us. He was really looking forward to play. Every player (was). It was a big Champions League night.

‘I told him I painted a picture, the scenario, the type of game we are going to have to face today and they all knew about it.

‘But the Champions League is so difficult to win, very difficult to win away from home and today we take a big lesson as well.

‘It was a knock that he picked up the other day, and he was perfectly fine. It wasn’t an action, it was a backheel that can produce that type of injury. Let’s see what the extent of it is, and afterwards, it was too late as well.’