Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard believes Bukayo Saka would be a miss for any team in the world as the England winger faces an anxious wait to see if he will be fit to face Manchester City.
Saka limped out of Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat in Lens, with manager Mikel Arteta admitting afterwards that it “didn’t look good” for the 22-year-old.
It was the third game in a row that Saka had started and failed to finish having also been forced off against Tottenham and in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Bournemouth.
He recovered from those two knocks to start at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, where he teed up Gabriel Jesus to put the visitors ahead early on.
However, an error from David Raya led to Adrien Thomasson equalising before Saka’s night came to a premature end when he hobbled off with just 34 minutes on the clock.
Elye Wahi went on to hit the winner for the home side, who were hosting their first Champions League game in over two decades.
Meanwhile, Saka – who has featured in Arsenal’s last 87 Premier League games – now faces a race against time to be fit for the visit of reigning champions City on Sunday.
“We still have some great players, but I think every team in the world would miss Bukayo,” Odegaard said in the aftermath of the surprise loss.
“But we have to see what happens in the next few days. Hopefully it’s not too bad and he’s going to be ready.
“It’s a big game coming up and everyone is excited for the game. It will be a good game to play in. We have to look forward, make sure we’re ready and show up on the Sunday.”
This is Arsenal’s first season back in the Champions League in six years and – after thrashing PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in the opening Group B clash – their largely-inexperienced squad was given a reminder of how tough Europe’s top-tier club competition can be.
Incredible away support once again, Gooners.
We'll see you back at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/0S2FDXjK6y
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 3, 2023
Asked if having to juggle Premier League and Champions League football could become a challenge, Odegaard replied: “I don’t think it’s an issue.
“Of course it’s tough to play in Europe. We played a good team, they were strong. They made it very difficult for us.
“We have to look at ourselves, learn, move on. I’m sure we’re going to get better and better so we take the lessons and move on.
“We want to win every game we play. Of course we’re disappointed now, but I think we got some good lessons today so we have to look at it in that way and make sure we learn.”