Arsenal's Arteta backs Saka to 'fly' ahead of season climax

Arteta: Everyone in this league is suffering to win (0:40)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says his team will have to suffer in order to beat Brighton as the level in the Premier League is 'so high'. (0:40)

LONDON -- Mikel Arteta has backed Bukayo Saka to lead Arsenal's Premier League title charge, saying on Friday that he is "super positive" about the winger and that he is "going to fly and be so decisive."

Saka, who is Arsenal's top scorer in the league this season with 13 goals, has been a key player for Arteta since he was appointed the club's head coach in 2019.

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Of the Arsenal forward players, only captain Martin Ødegaard has played more minutes than Saka this season.

Asked whether he thinks the 22-year-old is in danger of burning out as the season reaches its climax, Arteta told a news conference on Friday: "I'm super positive. I think he's going to fly and be so decisive."

The England international missed Wednesday's 2-0 win over Luton Town with a hamstring injury but is in line to return to the team for Saturday's match against Brighton, and Arteta was asked what it is about Saka that gives him the ability to return from injuries so quickly.

"I think because he's so strong, how much he wants it when you talk to him and how excited he is about what is coming," Arteta said.

"He wants to be there and he's getting better and better. It's normal, you have little niggles, you have kicks. He's gone through a lot of that in the last two or three years and look at the way he's performing."

Arteta made five changes to his team for the win over Luton as regular starters including Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus dropped to the bench, while the likes of Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe were given an opportunity in the XI.

Smith Rowe was awarded the man of the match for his performance and Arteta backed the midfielder to return to the form that he showed when he broke into the Arsenal first team in 2021.

"I look at him and what happened within the last two seasons, especially with him. But what happened [in the last] three seasons as well... Take all that," Arteta said.

"It's the best thing that could have happened for him in his career if you use it the right way now.

"So don't look back and say, 'oh if, if' -- no, this happened, use it. That was the best thing that could have happened [his time out of the team]. 'I had a great moment, I had difficult moments, now I know what I want, how to deal with that, that's going to make me a much better player.'

"And you could see [against Luton] the hell of a player that we have in him when he's fit and he's playing at that level."

Despite trailing league leaders Liverpool by two points, Arsenal have scored the most goals of any team in the league and conceded the fewest.

"This is the level," the Arsenal boss said. "This been the level now in the last six or seven years in this league and the margins are so small. Let's see, we'll have to see those numbers at the end of the last game and hopefully if those are same I think we'll have a good chance [to win the Premier League]."

Asked whether he is most proud of the fact his team has scored the most or conceded the least goals this season, Arteta said: "Only the winning one. The other ones [I don't care about], the one that I want is the winning one only."

After the weekend, Arsenal return to European action where they face Bayern Munich at the Emirates on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.