Saliba: UCL travel troubles won't derail Arsenal

William Saliba said Arsenal’s Champions League preparations have not been unduly disrupted by the team’s travel problems in getting to Lens.

The Gunners were due to leave London at 4.15 p.m. on Monday, but were almost five hours late departing after bad weather in the Luton area delayed their flight to Lens.

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Arsenal are set to play their first away game in Europe’s premier club competition since 2017, but Saliba insisted his teammates would overcome the disruption in reaching the French city, located about 150 miles from London.

The Gunners were forced to cancel their pre-match news conference and when asked during a phone call with reporters whether Saliba was confident they could still perform at their usual level, the Frenchman said: “Yeah of course. We have to arrive first but tomorrow is another day and we will give our best against Lens.

“It is really good feeling. My second game in the Champions League with Arsenal. I can’t wait to play in France, so it is a good feeling.”

Arsenal’s travelling group included Thomas Partey, who hasn’t featured since Aug. 26 due to a groin problem, but Gabriel Martinelli missed the trip due to a hamstring problem.

“He’s progressed really well in the last two weeks and he managed to train in the last two or three days with the team and that’s great news for us obviously,” said manager Mikel Arteta. “I think his progression in the last week has been very good. He might have some exposure tomorrow depending how the game goes.

“He’s a big player and we know what he brings to the team. He knows exactly what we need and with the injuries we had to other players in midfield and at the back he complements us in a great way and gives us options. So it’s great to have him back again.”