Mikel Arteta insists the return of Gabriel Jesus has given everyone at Arsenal a lift, but stresses the Brazil international’s fitness must be “managed”.
“It was great to see him back. You can feel the happiness of everyone,” Arteta said.
“We missed him and now he’s back. We have to manage his minutes, his involvement in the squad and the team.
“He’s feeling good and every day he’s training he says his sensations are better and better, so that’s really positive.”
Eddie Nketiah had helped to fill the void in Jesus’ absence, netting six goals in 12 games as Arsenal have led the way at the top of the Premier League table, but the Englishman is now battling an injury of his own.
“It’s getting better [Nketiah’s injury]. He’s still in the boot,” said Arteta on Nketiah’s condition.
“He’s still a few weeks away and we need to be patient. It was a nasty injury and he has a big challenge ahead of him. Thank God it’s not as bad as it could have been.”
Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on February 15, 2023 in London
Image credit: Getty Images
With Arsenal leading the Premier League table by five points as we approach the business end of the season – and with some difficult fixtures to come including a trip to Manchester City in April – the Europa League could be seen as a distraction by some.
But Arteta insists the competition remains important for the north London club.
“We haven’t had big European nights for three years. Due to Covid especially,” he said.
“Tomorrow [Thursday] is the first one for a while. Hopefully we will build a big atmosphere and enjoy with our supporters against a really good team that is going to put a big challenge in front of us.”
After Sporting, Arsenal turn their focus back to league matters when they host Crystal Palace on Sunday.
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