Arsenal have two players at risk of picking up an automatic one-game ban against Chelsea and Mikel Arteta will be keen for both players to avoid any possible suspension. Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba have been key to the Gunners’ pre-World Cup success so far this term but both stand on four Premier League yellow cards.
The duo are both expected to start when Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge to face rivals Chelsea today (12pm). Saliba has been a Premier League team of the year contender thus far with some imperious defensive performances, while also contributing two goals and an assist in 12 games.
While summer signing Jesus has been the example for his team-mates up top and has five goals and six assists from 12 league outings. Yet the pair have both amassed four yellows each, which leaves them at risk of a ban.
Arteta will be eager for the pair to avoid yellows against Graham Potter’s Chelsea in a fiercely-fought London derby this afternoon. That is because Arsenal travel to Wolves in their next league, which is their final match before the World Cup break, on November 12.
While Wolves are struggling, they can be a difficult team to break down and have picked up eight of their 10 points this term at home at Molineux. Wolves have won two of the last four meetings between the two teams in Wolverhampton.
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The match will also serve as former Real Madrid and Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui’s first in charge, making it an even trickier affair despite their recent form. Arteta therefore would love to have both Jesus and Saliba for the trip, given they are guaranteed starters.
The pair would be hit with a one-game suspension and be forced to miss Wolves away if cautioned against Chelsea. And they are not free of a ban if they escape from Stamford Bridge without having been booked.
The Premier League yellow card count is not wiped until December 31. That means if Jesus or Saliba pick up bookings at Wolves, they would be unavailable for the Boxing Day visit of West Ham to the Emirates, which is another testing clash.
If the pair do not pick up yellow cards in either of the next two matches after Chelsea, then they will escape punishment. That is unless they rack up 10 yellows before, or on, the 32nd match of the league campaign, which would also incur a two-match suspension.
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Eddie Nketiah would be the one to replace Jesus were he to miss a match while Rob Holding would be the likely stand-in for Saliba. Arteta was forced to field questions about Jesus’ goalscoring form after he went eight matches without scoring on Thursday night against FC Zurich in the Europa League.
Arteta responded: “That’s going to change [his bad luck], he’s getting the situations, he’s getting the chances. He’s contributing to the team an awful lot, he’s helping to win matches, the way he competes for every ball in every single action is incredible.
“It will come, he needs to be patient, he’s been through that in the past and he needs to learn those lessons and don’t stop doing those other things that he’s doing so well, because that’s going to maintain the level of him and the team.”
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