Mikel Arteta has confirmed Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Ben White will be assessed ahead of Thursday’s north London derby atTottenham.
Saka was withdrawn after 68 minutes of the 2-1 win over Leeds on Super Sunday, while defender White has not played for the Gunners since the 3-1 victory over Manchester United at the Emirates on April 23.
The Arsenal manager suggested in his press conference on Wednesday afternoon that it would be touch-and-go as to whether the pair would feature in Thursday’s crunch clash, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; Kick off 7.45pm.
He said: “Thomas (Partey) is still out, Kieran (Tierney) is out and with Ben, he is still a doubt. We have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better, and Bukayo the same.
“It is very difficult to rate with injuries. It is just how they feel today. That’s the last day we can assess them.”
Should they win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season – Arsene Wenger’s penultimate campaign in charge of the club. Spurs are four points behind Arsenal in fifth.
The Frenchman was once quoted as saying qualifying for Europe’s top club competition was “like winning a trophy” and Arteta said he knew the gravity of the game.
Arteta said: “I have heard that quote now many times from many different managers and I think Arsene was the first one who said it because he could probably see what was happening in this league and the difficulty of achieving that.
“I feel that, for the club, it will be extremely important.
“[This is] the most exciting game [as Arsenal boss], probably, but we had others when we played the finals against Chelsea and Liverpool in the FA Cup and Community Shield.
“When you have the opportunity to achieve one of your objectives in the season, you can’t wait to play the game because this is a job and the work you have done throughout the season to try to earn it.
“The message is clear: if we win against them, we are in the Champions League next season. Not that they need any more motivation and to tell them other than that. The opportunity is there and we are going to play and go for it like we always do because it is how we have come into this position and that’s how we’re going to approach it.”
He also made it clear both he and his squad must be mentally prepared for the clash, despite the weight of expectation upon them
Arteta added: “We try to approach every game emotionally the best way and there are moments and people that can describe what a game means better than I do, or in a different way than I do. We always try to find the right way to get the players in the right mindset to play the game they have to play that day.
“We all know about it and what it means to our fans. After that, it is a football pitch with a lot of noise and a crowd that will be excited to support the team and we will have our fans 100 per cent behind the team.
“We all know where we want to be and the competitions we want to be involved in. To do that we have to achieve through the Premier League this season what we want to do. For me, it is about the excitement and the opportunity. When you have that in football, you have to go and deliver and that is the mindset that we all have for tomorrow.”
Watch Tottenham vs Arsenal live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm on Thursday; Kick off 7.45pm.