Gabriel Jesus is a doubt for Arsenal’s trip to Leeds United on Sunday, while Mikel Arteta only foresees his side’s fixture pile-up getting worse after the World Cup.
Inspired new signing Jesus had played in all 11 of Arsenal’s matches this season before missing the midweek win over Bodo/Glimt due to a knock sustained in last Sunday’s victory over Liverpool.
But a rare break on Thursday while his team-mates were in Europa League action was not necessarily enough to see Jesus return at Leeds.
Arteta looked ahead to the Leeds match after full-time in Norway, at which point he was still unsure of his striker’s status for the game at Elland Road.
“I don’t know,” Arsenal manager Arteta said of Jesus. “Obviously he has some discomfort after the game against Liverpool, and that’s why we decided not to bring him in [to Norway].
“So, let’s see how he is.”
After Leeds, Arsenal host PSV in a match that was postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last month.
That will be the third of five consecutive Thursdays on which Arsenal have Europa League commitments, with each game followed by a Premier League fixture on the Sunday.
But that gruelling schedule is unlikely to ease any time soon, with the Gunners beginning their involvement in the EFL Cup and FA Cup either side of the World Cup, as well as having two more postponed games to play in the Premier League.
Were Arsenal to finish second in their Europa League group, they would have even more fixtures to squeeze in due to a play-off round.
“I think [the fixture congestion] is already here,” Arteta said, “but I think after the World Cup, it is going to be even worse, so I think it is good preparation for what is coming.”