Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka insists he is not concerned about burnout and is ready to answer manager Mikel Arteta’s challenge of playing 70 games this season.
The England winger, 22, captained the Gunners to a 5-0 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon to keep them within two points of the top of the Premier League.
Saka has started all-but one of Arsenal’s Premier League and Champions League games this season, sitting out the victory over Manchester City with a hamstring complaint.
Missing the win ended a streak of 87 successive league appearances for Saka, stretching back to May 2021.
Saka’s durability has been an asset for club and country as Arteta called for him to keep playing and contributing to Arsenal’s quest for silverware.
“Look at the top players in the world, they play 70 matches and every three days and make the difference and win the game. You want to be at the top, you have to be able to do that,” the Spanaird said last year.
Saka, who notched up 62 appearances for both Arsenal and England last season, believes he can produce the kind of numbers Arteta is demanding.
“I think it’s possible,” Saka said. “When you look at the top players, they are there every three days and they are winning games for their team.
“So I’m trying to be at that level, and to obviously be at that level I need to push myself. Of course, it’s difficult, but I’m trying to do it and give it my best.
“I think I’m really focused on the next coming games and what I can do for the team. My focus is not really there (on talk of potentially burning out).
“I’m a guy who always wants to be on the pitch, always wants to give my best, and if I’m injured and I have to be forced to be out, then of course I will sit out.
“But as long I’m there and I’m ready to play, I am always going to give my best and tell them that I want to play.”
Saka is expected to be rested as Arteta shuffles his pack for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round trip to West Ham.
But he could once again be sporting the captain’s armband when Arsenal travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday, with skipper Martin Odegaard nursing a hip problem and regular stand-in Gabriel Jesus out with a hamstring injury.
“It was a really special moment for me,” Saka said of leading out Arsenal as captain for the first time.
“To be honest, I can’t really describe how I was feeling when I was walking out. I just tried to take in the atmosphere and just realise where I am and where I’ve come from.
“Then obviously I had to switch my focus to the game and we did, and we got the three points – which is the most important thing at the end of the day.
“We are close to the top of the table in the Premier League, we are top of our Champions League group and we are still in all the other competitions.
“I think that is something we can be proud of, but I agree there is another level for us to go to. We are pushing.”