(Reuters) – Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta downplayed fears Gabriel Jesus had sustained an injury and said he is being rested for Thursday’s Europa League game at Bodo/Glimt, after the Brazilian striker missed training ahead of the trip to Norway.
Jesus, 25, suffered a head injury and required medical treatment during Sunday’s 3-2 win over Liverpool in the Premier League after he was caught by Kostas Tsimikas’ flailing arm.
“We thought that with everything he’s been through in the last few weeks it was better that he stayed at home,” Arteta told reporters on Wednesday.
Jesus has scored five goals and assisted three in nine league appearances for Arsenal and will be expected to lead the line on Sunday against Leeds United at Elland Road as Arteta’s side look to retain top spot in the standings.
Arteta gave little away about which other first-team players, apart from long-term absentees Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny, did not travel to Norway.
Arsenal top Group A with a six points from two games, two ahead of Bodo/Glimt who are third and have played one match more.
Arsenal beat the Norwegian side 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium last week and can move a step closer to qualifying for the knockout round with another win at the Aspmyra Stadion on Thursday.
The group winners secure an automatic last 16 berth while runners-up face one of the third-placed teams dropping down from the Champions League in a two-leg playoff tie.
“They are one of the contenders to be at the top of the group for sure,” Arteta said of Bodo/Glimt. “Tomorrow again we will have a difficult test.
“Looking at the group, tomorrow’s result is going to be really important because we can eliminate playing an extra two games and the opponents that you will be facing after that, so we know that we want to be top of the group.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)