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EPL: Arteta reveals fresh insight into Saka fitness amid intense schedule

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes Bukayo Saka’s mental toughness is the reason he has been able to play so many minutes this season.

Saka has missed just 184 minutes for Arsenal during the current campaign and there have been concerns he could burnout.

The winger limped off during the Gunners’ 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven on Thursday night in the Europa League due to a calf problem.

Arteta, however, insisted after the match that Saka can cope with the workload and he has now explained that is due to the 21-year-old’s mental strength.

“Here,” said Arteta, tapping his head, when answering how Saka has become more robust this season.

“Robustness is in your mind. How much you want it, how tough you want to be with yourself, how pushy you want to be with yourself and what you do to get to that level.

“The gym is very important but what happens in your brain I think is more important.

“I think he has a really powerful environment around him. His family, the people around him, the way he’s been raised.

“He has some important people in his life. I think there are some really good influences as well. And then everybody at the club that tries to protect him but as well challenge and push him to get to a different level.”

Arteta has insisted that Arsenal monitor players regularly to ensure that no one is close to injury, but there is only so much one can do.

“We have so much data right now and we know what the players have done, what they can do, how they respond when they play every three days, when you play three four five consecutive matches, where the risk can be,” Arteta explained.

“But still nobody has a crystal clear ball. I haven’t heard anybody say: ‘This is going to happen in two weeks’ time’.

“But obviously we want to protect our players and the way to protect our players is, when there is a risk of overload and to get into that frame where they get injured, don’t do it.

“But to protect our players as well means they need to have the robustness to play those matches when it is necessary, because it’s going to be necessary and after the World Cup it’s going to be absolutely crazy the amount of games we’re going to have.”

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