Before the second leg against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, coach Erik Ten Hag was “envious” of Arsenal, saying that the Gunners were lucky to have not lost too many pillars due to injury since the beginning of the season.
“Every time is a different difficulty, sometimes a player is suspended, sometimes there is an injury or someone is ill. We have to deal with that well, but with Arsenal – when is the squad? Theirs is also ready,” the Man Utd coach told the press.
It is not clear if it was due to Ten Hag’s “concealment” words, but right in the first half against Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal received bad news when two defenders William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu were simultaneously injured.
Mikel Arteta admits the Japanese star’s problem seems ‘quite serious’. He said: “(Injury of) Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction, and from what he told me, but obviously it’s very early (to judge).”
Meanwhile, Arteta said of Saliba’s case: “He was a bit upset and couldn’t continue so we took him off the pitch.”
Saliba has started every Premier League game as a centre-back alongside Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of Arsenal’s four-man defence. He is a newcomer to the club after 3 years of being allowed to “study abroad” by the club. However, the Frenchman quickly won Arteta’s trust after a few training sessions.
Saliba’s absence will raise a question mark about the Gunners defence next time, in the context that they have conceded 5 goals in the last 4 matches.
On the other hand, the right-back position also leaves concerns for the Spaniard when Tomiyasu is injured. At this point, there will be no quality rotation for Ben White. If White is also injured or suspended, it will be a disaster for Arsenal.
Somehow, despite having invested more than £100 million last summer and brought in three new recruits in January, Arsenal still have problems with the force.
It seems that bad luck still clings to Arsenal in the sprint. Last year, they had a huge advantage over Tottenham in the race for the top 4. Then, Thomas Partey “lay on the field” and led to the Gunner’s unstoppable decline in the last 5 rounds, including a loss. against direct competitor Tottenham.
This season, the Partey problem is somewhat solved with the arrival of Jorginho. However, who is classy enough to replace Saliba, Arteta does not seem to have an immediate solution. Rob Holding made his best efforts in the midweek game, but is unlikely to be able to carry Arsenal for the rest of the season.
Let’s wait and see with 11 rounds ahead, how Arsenal will change their playing plans when their defense suffers great damage. If Arteta solves the difficult problem, they deserve the championship after nearly two decades of waiting.
Crouching Dragon | 20:31 March 18, 2023