Arsenal: Mikel Arteta provides ‘hopeful’ update on William Saliba injury with defender ‘feeling better’

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has not given up hope that William Saliba could play again this season.

France international Saliba has been out of action since the middle of March after injuring his back during the Gunners’ Europa League last-16 loss to Sporting CP.

The centre-back will miss Sunday’s trip to Newcastle, with Arteta saying he has not made “a lot of progress” this week.

But asked if it is time to accept that Saliba’s season is over, Arteta said: “We are not there yet, because we’re always hopeful and players are pushing to play. If that’s the case we’ll announce it, but hopefully not.

“It’s about the healing process pain-wise and the things he can do off the pitch. He’s in a good place, but we have to build that capacity with the right load so that he’s able to contribute to the team.

“He’s feeling better every day but he’s not been able to have any activity around the first-team, so we don’t expect him to be with us [on Sunday].”

Arsenal are currently trailing Manchester City by one point at the top of the Premier League, and Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.

Arteta, however, insists the Gunners have not given up hope of reeling City in. They could be four points behind come kick-off on Sunday, with City taking on Leeds a day earlier.

Arsenal suffered a painful loss at Newcastle last season, losing 2-0 in the penultimate game of the campaign to miss out on Champions League qualification, but Arteta says this is a different team to then.

“It will be a very different game,” said Arteta. “A year ago, different players, different game.

“We are going to have to play much better than we did last year, that’s for sure. We know that it is going to be a really tough game, because especially at home they have been really, really good.”