Manchester City vs Arsenal: Why was Bukayo Saka withdrawn in second half of the contest?

There was a lot of talk about Saka’s participation in Arsenal's starting XI. He has been injured recently hence the English international was a doubt for this fixture.

File photo - Bukayo Saka in training; Credit: Twitter@Arsenal
By Karthik Raman | Apr 2, 2024 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

There was nothing to separate between Manchester City and Arsenal, as the Premier League contest ended goalless at the Etihad Stadium. While it might not benefit both teams to get a draw from it, the Gunners can somewhat be pleased with the hard-earned point. Etihad Stadium is not easy for any side to play. City can be a massive threat at home, as teams often struggle to face them on this ground. In the same fixture last season, City ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.

Keeping that in mind, Arsenal supporters can be happy with the point their side gained this weekend. Having said that, both Manchester City and the Gunners are involved in a three-horse race for the Premier League title. Hence, the real winner from the result is Liverpool, who have now leapfrogged to the top spot and have a two-point cushion over Arsenal. With just nine games left for all three sides in the league, every point counts from here.

Why was Bukayo Saka withdrawn?

Ahead of the match, there was a lot of talk about Bukayo Saka’s participation in Arsenal’s starting XI. He has been out injured recently hence the English international was a doubt for this fixture. However, he started this game but was taken off in the second half. Providing an update on Saka, Mikel Arteta, quoted on, said in his post-match press conference, “Well, as you know he has been out for a few weeks now with a little problem and he was feeling that fatigue. Right now, he hasn’t trained. He trained one day before the match – he had a big contribution, but 90 minutes were too much for him today.”

Shifting the topic to the tightly fought contest, Arteta gave an honest assessment of the performance and result. “It was a thrilling game, a really tough match, a very demanding opponent but I think we competed really well. Defensively, I think we were outstanding. We had to go and put them under pressure higher up the pitch – I think we were really good and created a lot of difficulties,” he explained.

He added: “When they are that good that they get you in this low block, it’s very difficult to get out of that, they drop a lot of players and I think we prevented the spaces really well and that’s the difficulty. It’s the first time they haven’t scored at home in three years, so that’s the outstanding team that they are. And then the downside is that we had some big situations to score, we didn’t make the most out of them and the next step is with the ball to have much more composure, especially in the first phase to attack better.”

The Arsenal manager said that he wanted to win the game but if they cannot do it, he wanted his side to not lose it. Asked whether it was a good result in relation to the title race, Arteta replied, “I don’t know. You want to win the game, we prepared to win it. If you can’t win it, make sure we draw it, and we did that. Eleven months ago we were here and the story was very different, and you have to continue to make steps as a team and try to improve and today we have done that. We still have much more to come.”

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