Kieran Tierney is set to miss a large chunk of Arsenal’s remaining games after he suffered knee ligament damage.
The Gunners left-back was forced off after 46 minutes of the side’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend which left supporters fearing the worst.
Their concerns were confirmed on Wednesday afternoon with the club releasing a statement that revealed Tierney will be sidelined for up to six weeks.
It read: “Kieran sustained ligament damage to his left knee during Saturday’s match against Liverpool.
“Surgery will not be required and it’s hoped that Kieran will be back in full training within four to six weeks.”
For Mikel Arteta, this comes as crushing news, with no recognised left-back in the squad to replace the Scotland defender.
The Gunners took a big risk in the January transfer window as they loaned out Sead Kolasinac to Schalke – the club he left to move to north London back in 2017.
Jordan Amavi was linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in January, with his contract at Marseille expiring in the summer. However, Arsenal never made a move for the 26-year-old.
Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand was the subject of enquiries from Arsenal in the mid-season window, football.london understands, but again – nothing came of the interest.
It was hardly a surprise Tierney picked up the injury considering he started the last nine games in all competitions under Arteta.
Cedric Soares has played on the left side of defence this season when Tierney’s either been rested or unavailable for selection.
Bukayo Saka, though, is a player Arteta has frequently turned to for the left-back position.
The £100million-valued man has been one of the Gunners’ strongest attacking players this season – with 12 direct goal involvements in all competitions for the 19-year-old sensation.
Saka ‘s versatility makes him an invaluable option for Arteta but his ability going forward makes it very difficult to sacrifice him and play him in defence.
The teenager in attack, along with Emile Smith Rowe, coincided with an upturn in form for Arteta’s men at the turn of the year.
But playing in defence could jeopardise Arsenal’s attacking play, the fluidity between the lines, the speed in attack, but it’s something that may have to be done.
Having Cedric at left-back means there’s a right footer playing on the left side of defence that can be seen as a disadvantage.
As well as the Portugal defender has done this season for the Gunners, switching sides at full-back is rarely a seamless transition and can be something wingers can utilise.
Saka moving back into defence is likely to hamper his chances of securing a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming European Championships.
The teenage talent had to withdraw from the latest squad through injury and missed a big chance to impress for the Three Lions.
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville both left Saka out of their squads when asked on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
Carragher said: ” Saka, when I was doing the squad, I started thinking about different things, and I wanted him to be in it.
“He can play that many positions, and in some people’s eyes that might be a strength for Gareth, but for me, it was almost a weakness where at first, I had him in front of Chilwell and was thinking if Shaw got injured in the first game then would you really want Saka as a left-back in a back four?
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“I went with the safe option in terms of Chilwell playing there, he’s wing-back for Chelsea, I think Gareth will go to a back five at some stage.”
Neville added: ” I love Saka but again, who would you leave out? The question you’ve always got to ask is: I love him, but who would you leave out for him?
“Would you leave out Grealish, Foden, Mount out? No, I wouldn’t.
“Don’t try and pinch a position, it will bite you like you won’t believe.
“Let’s say if there’s a brilliant right winger playing against us in the tournament at some point, like there will be, and Saka is left-back and you’re thinking: ‘How are we going to win this tournament as England?
“How did we do well in the World Cup? We were pretty solid, set-pieces were outstanding, we had a good draw and we got to the semi-final’.”