Arsenal's young French defender William Saliba has reportedly been ruled out for the club's Premier League game against Crystal Palace on Sunday (March 19).
The 21-year-old suffered an injury in the first half of the Gunners' UEFA Europa League clash against Sporting CP in midweek and was replaced by Rob Holding.
A win against Palace on Sunday will see Mikel Arteta's men move eight points clear at the summit, with second-placed Manchester City not in league action till April, as they played in the FA Cup this weekend.
However, Arsenal's task of beating Palace has become complicated without Saliba. L'Equipe (via The Sun) have reported that the Frenchman could be out for 'several weeks' due to a back injury. The defender has also reportedly withdrawn from the France national team for the upcoming international break.
Saliba was called up to Didier Deschamps' squad to face Ireland and the Netherlands later this month but will miss out. While minutes for his country have been limited, Saliba has been a crucial part of Arsenal's defence as they look to mount a title challenge.
William Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27 million and was loaned back to the French club. He spent a successful season on loan at Marseille before becoming a mainstay for the Gunners this season. However, he will not be in the squad to face Crystal Palace and has been replaced by academy prodigy Reuell Walters.
Saliba has made 33 appearances for Arsenal across competitions this season, scoring three goals and assisting one.
Arsenal will look to capitalise against manager-less Palace
Crystal Palace sent shockwaves across the Premier League earlier this week when they announced about parting ways with manager Patrick Vieira. The Eagles are without a win in 2023 but are 12th in the standings, leading to questions about the timing of the decision.
What's even more ironic is that Vieira was relieved of his duties just before he could visit the club where he first made a name for himself in England. That could now play into Mikel Arteta's hands, who will be eager to stretch his team's lead at the summit to eight points.
Palace have managed just three attempts on target in their last four league games, picking up just one point. The Gunners will look to capitalise on that despite having their own injury issues.