Arsenal get Gabriel Martinelli boost for critical Slavia Prague clash amid Bukayo Saka concerns

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George Flood
·2-min read
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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal have received one boost amid the injury gloom ahead of Thursday’s critical Europa League tie against Slavia Prague, with Gabriel Martinelli declaring himself fit for the match.

The Brazilian striker was handed his first start since January against bottom club Sheffield United on Sunday evening, scoring in the Premier League for the first time in 446 days in a comfortable 3-0 victory for the Gunners at Bramall Lane.

It looked as if an injury-plagued campaign for Martinelli might continue to be blighted as he appeared to sustain a knock to his ankle before being replaced by Mohamed Elneny with seven minutes left against the Blades.

However, the 19-year-old confirmed after the game that he would be fit for this week’s trip to the Czech capital.

“No, I am alright to play on Thursday," he said when asked about an injury.

While Martinelli will be ready, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is facing a number of fitness concerns ahead of the quarter-final second-leg tie.

Sunday’s win over Sheffield United was overshadowed by a thigh injury sustained by Bukayo Saka, with the England international set to be assessed over the coming days.

Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard are also doubtful, while Kieran Tierney and David Luiz are also sidelined but captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could return after illness.

Gabriel Martinelli ended his Premier League goal drought at Bramall LaneArsenal FC via Getty Images
Gabriel Martinelli ended his Premier League goal drought at Bramall LaneArsenal FC via Getty Images

The tie with Slavia Prague is currently delicately poised at 1-1 after substitute Nicolas Pepe’s late first-leg goal at the Emirates was cancelled out in the final seconds by Tomas Holes last Thursday.

Winning the Europa League is now likely to provide the only route back into the Champions League for Arsenal next season, with Arteta’s side currently sitting ninth in the Premier League and still 10 points adrift of the top four.

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