Mikel Arteta admits he doesn’t know the extent of William Saliba’s injury, which saw the defender limping away in Arsenal’s Europa League defeat to Sporting Lisbon.
The defender left the Emirates turf in the 21st minute and was replaced by Rob Holding.
The Gunners had just taken the lead in the last 16 draw through Granit Xhaka, having drawn the first leg 2-2 in Lisbon.
But there was bad news right away as Saliba left the match with what appeared to be a back injury and joined fellow defender Takehiro Tomiyasu as a first-half casualty.
Only Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Magalhaes have played more minutes for manager Arteta in all competitions this season, with Saliba being a key part of their Premier League leading form.
About the severity of Tomiyasu and Saliba’s injuries, Arteta said after the game: “I don’t know.
“Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction and what he said to me. Willy I don’t know, he was in some discomfort and couldn’t continue.”
Asked if injuries in general would hurt the club’s Premier League title aspirations, the manager said: “I don’t know. We’ve had injuries all season.
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“We had Emily [Smith Rowe] four months out, Gabriel Jesus four months out, Alex two and a half months, Thomas a month and a half, Eddie a month and a half. We had a lot of injuries already, but we dealt with them.
“The disappointment does not go away, the disappointment is there now, but it brings clarity. There are now 11 games to play, 11 Premier League games and we have a final against Crystal Palace. We need to get all the energy back there and put our focus on that and play better than today. Put in the same effort as today and win.”
Arsenal were taken to extra time after Pedro Goncalves equalized for the visitors with an incredible effort from 46 yards out.
Neither side could find a winner in extra time, meaning the last-16 tie went to a penalty shootout, which the Portuguese side won 5–4 and saw Gabriel Martinelli have his penalty saved.
Arsenal continue their bid to clinch the Premier League title for the first time in 19 years when they face Crystal Palace on Sunday.
After the international break, however, they still have to play against Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Newcastle in their run-up.