Arsenal are anxiously awaiting news on the fitness of their defender William Saliba, as they prepare to take on Crystal Palace in a crucial clash on Sunday (19 March).
The Gunners suffered a significant physical and mental toll during Thursday's Europa League defeat by Sporting CP. The first half saw Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu both taken off while several other players also struggled niggles and cramps.
Tomiyasu's condition was especially worrisome, as the full-back left the Emirates on crutches after appearing to suffer a knee injury in a nasty fall.
Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta admitted the issue looked 'pretty serious' (via Daily Mail). As for Saliba, the manager revealed that the center-back had 'some discomfort and could not continue'.
Saliba has been a mainstay in the Gunners' Premier League campaign, partnering Gabriel at the heart of Arsenal's defense in every game thus far. His absence would pose a significant predicament for Arteta, who is already grappling with injuries to Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny.
Ben White, who has featured at right-back throughout the season, appears to be the natural choice to step in for Tomiyasu. However, the Gunners' defense is now stretched thin with the absence of another right-sided defender.
Despite the setbacks, there is some optimism that Gabriel, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Leandro Trossard, who all suffered knocks on Thursday, will be fit in time for the Crystal Palace game. Nonetheless, Arteta will be keeping his fingers crossed that Saliba can make a swift recovery ahead of Arsenal's crucial clash.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta discusses injuries ahead of Premier League clash
In thepost-match press conference following the defeat against Sporting, Mikel Arteta noted that injuries had affected the club in different ways. He said (via Daily Mail):
"We've been carrying injuries throughout the season. We had Emile [Smith Rowe]uout for four months, [Gabriel] Jesus for four months, Thomas [Partey] for a month and a half, Alex [Zinchenko] for two and half months, Eddie for a month and a half."
"We had quite a lot of injuries already but we dealt with it. The disappointment is not going to go away it's there now. But there's also a clarity. It's 11 games to go now and we have a final against Crystal Palace. We have to recover and put all the focus there and win."