Mikel Arteta reveals ‘serious’ Arsenal injury blow, while key centre-back also faces lay-off after Europa League exit

Arsenal Europa League exit Credit: Alamy
Arsenal Europa League exit Credit: Alamy

Speaking after the Europa League exit at the hands of Sporting Lisbon on Thursday evening, Mikel Arteta revealed that a key Arsenal man suffered a ‘serious’ injury while another also faces a lay-off.

The Gunners went into the second leg of their round of 16 tie level with Sporting after a 2-2 draw in Lisbon. And they took one step towards the quarter-finals when Granit Xhaka gave them the lead in north London.

However, they were pegged back by a stunning long-range equaliser from Pedro Goncalves in the second half, sending the contest to extra time.

There was no change to the scoreline in the additional 30 minutes, although Sporting went down to 10 men when Manuel Ugarte picked up a second yellow.

Gabriel Martinelli was then the only player to miss from the spot on in the penalty shootout when his effort was saved by Sporting keeper Antonio Adan.

That leaves Arsenal to now put their sole focus on Premier League glory. Indeed, they could take an eight-point lead over Manchester City this weekend if they beat Fulham, with Pep Guardiola’s men in FA Cup action.

However, there were more negatives on the night after Arteta revealed that Takehiro Tomiyasu suffered what looks like a ‘serious’ injury, while William Saliba also had to be take off.

Arsenal facing potential double blow

Speaking after the match, Arteta rued the exit and gave an update on both players, saying: “Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction and what he said to me, but it’s very early. Willy [Saliba] I don’t know, he had some discomfort and could not continue so we had to take him out.”

Tomiyasu’s expected absence is not a huge blow in the grand scheme of things, given that Ben White can fill comfortably fill the right-back role. However, losing Saliba for an extended period will be tougher to overcome.

The Frenchman has been one of the first names on Arteta’s team sheet all season long. To that end, replacing him will be much tougher.

Rob Holding or January signing Jakub Kiwior are the most likely names to fill that void, as the Gunners push for a first league title in almost 20 years.

READ MORE: Arsenal ‘interested’ in stunning third Man City raid for midfielder ready to end Etihad contract talks

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