After picking up a hamstring injury for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal against RC Lens in France in Matchday 2 of this season’s UEFA Champions League, Bukayo Saka missed the Gunners’ 1-0 win against defending English Premier League champions Manchester City at Emirates a couple of days ago. As football clubs are now heading to the second international break in the 2023/2024 Season, the 22-year-old Bukayo Saka will also miss his country’s double-header against Australia and Italy in an international match and a 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifier respectively, after the news was confirmed by the Football Association of the Three Lions.
What Happened to Bukayo Saka?
In Arsenal’s first defeat of the 2023/2024 Season against RC Lens, Bukayo Saka, who set up Gabriel Jesus for the opening goal, had to be replaced by Fábio Vieira in the 34th minute of the game, and the incident attracted instant backlashes from pundits and spectators towards manager Mikel Arteta. This is because the Spanish had subbed of the injured 22-year-old winger 14 minutes before time during Arsenal’s 4-0 thrashing over Bournemouth in the end of September, but chose to start the injured player in the second group match of this year’s European club competition, and Bukayo Saka’s ultimate exit from the game also saw the Gunners’ unbeaten start in 2023/2024 being broken by the French outfit.
Arteta’s backfired move saw him be without one of his best players when the Gunners hosted his old master Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Emirates, although his Arsenal side did manage to bag all three points against the three-time defending league winners to go joint-top with North London arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League table with six wins and two draws at the end.
Bukayo Saka is not the only one that is sidelined for his club at the moment, 35-year-old Poland striker and captain Robert Lewandowski will also be out for more than a month for Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona, after the player went off from the Catalan Giants’ own UEFA Champions League match against Porto last time around. Lewandowski is bound to miss the first El Clásico of the season due to this left ankle issue, and we have all the details of his injury here.
Speedy recovery, Bukayo! 👊
— England (@England) October 9, 2023
Three Lions to Be without Their Two-Time Player of the Year Winner
Bukayo Saka, who has 5 goals in 10 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal this season, also had 11 goals for his country England in the past three years. Besides, since making his senior debut back in 2020 and surviving the hate after the 2020 UEFA European Championship Final shootout against Italy, the 22-year-old winger captured back-to-back England Senior Men’s Player of the Year awards and he has been a favourite for head coach Gareth Southgate during friendlies and competitive matches.
Southgate’s Three Lions are set to host Australia for a friendly game at Wembley Stadium this Friday, before they play Italy for Matchday 8 of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers at the same venue next midweek. The second game of this international week would be crucial for England as they are now at least six points above the rest in Group C and look forward to book the tickets in advance for the Finals in Germany. In light of these matches, Bukayo Saka’s absence would be a big loss for the Three Lions and Southgate would find it difficult to replace a star-calibre player like him.
In an official statement released, the England FA addressed about Bukayo Saka’s situation, saying “Having missed Arsenal’s Premier League win against Manchester City on Sunday through injury, Saka was assessed by the England medical team and it was decided that the player would continue his rehabilitation at his club.” England gaffer Southgate also stressed that he would not risk the player’s long-term fitness by selecting him for matches if knowing that he is not fit enough a few days prior to the England’s announcement.
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Who Will Start for England in the Absence of Saka?
Since Gareth Southgate opted not to find a replacement for Bukayo Saka in his 25-man squad that will face Australia and Italy at Wembley, players who could start at the right flank for the Three Lions now are Manchester City’ Phil Foden, Tottenham Hotspur’s in-form star James Maddison or West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen. Catch all these matches via AsiaSport.com or stay tuned to https://www.otherleague.com/ for the latest news and updates about international and club football matches.