Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has admitted that he will ‘ideally’ rest Bukayo Saka at some point to prevent the youngster suffering from burnout.
Saka has been one of the Gunners’ standout performers this term, and he set up two goals as Arsenal progressed past Benfica into the Europa League last 16 with a 3-2 victory on Thursday evening.
The match against Benfica was the teenager’s sixth successive 90 minutes in the space of four weeks, and he has started all but two of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures since 4 October.
When asked if Saka would have to be rested soon, Arteta replied (via the Evening Standard): “At some point, ideally, yes. On Thursday night at some stages in the game we were thinking about that, because you can see it.
“It is not only him, there are a lot of players who have played so many minutes, you could see the Benfica players and you could sense the fatigue and the changes they had to do straight away. But obviously when things go well the energy that creates sometimes overcomes fatigue, and I prefer not to talk too much about fatigue.
“If we have to rest players, we have to rest them, because we have to keep them fit as much as possible but as well you have to develop that mental toughness that you need when you are in competitions you want to win.”
Although Arteta said the winger will be rested at some point to prevent burnout, the Arsenal boss did add that fatigue can at times be a mental hurdle, not a physical one.
“There are so many good examples we can use so fatigue is a lot of times mental, because if things go well and you score a goal, I’m sure you will still have the energy to sprint and celebrate that goal,” Arteta said.
“But when you have to track someone back, you say you’re tired? I don’t really agree with that, if you are on that pitch – until you are absolutely done – you have to give your best.”