Arsenal have been handed a major blow after news of Kieran Tierney’s injury. Mikel Arteta now has a tough decision to make involving Saka.
Arsenal are set to be without left-back Kieran Tierney for a period of between four to six weeks. The Gunners confirmed he has suffered knee ligament damage.
The Scotland international suffered the injury during the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday. He was replaced just before half-time at the Emirates Stadium.
It was initially feared that Tierney could be out for months but the latest confirmation is that the 23-year-old won’t require surgery and would only be out for weeks. That could still count as a relief to a certain extent.
A statement on the Arsenal website said on the left-back: “Left knee. 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.”
Arsenal’s top-four hopes might be all but over but the Gunners remain challengers in the Europa League.
In the absence of Tierney, Cedric Soares or Bukayo Saka are the most likely candidates to fill in there. That leaves Mikel Arteta with a difficult decision to make.
Bukayo Saka made introduced himself to the Arsenal fold playing at the left-back role. In that position, he was consistent enough and made a genuine point to be a regular for the Gunners.
However, lack of creativity upfront forced Arteta to shuffle the pack and deploy Saka further upfront, a position where he has greatly excelled and continues to get better with each game. At the moment, the youngster is a genuine shout for Arsenal’s player of the season award.
Elsewhere, Cedric Soares is not a natural left-back but has the ability to comfortably play that role. While he hasn’t done that bad on few occasions in that position, he’s not exactly shown that needed consistency either.
Should Mikel Arteta choose to take Saka back to the left-back role, it could mean the youngster’s creativity would be missed upfront. Perhaps time for Pepe to step up?
If Arteta also chooses to go with Cedric, the Portuguese is yet to fully convince and the Gunners could be losing a good amount of athleticism that a Kieran Tierney or Bukayo Saka would bring while playing in that position.
Speaking after news of the injury to Tierney, Arteta has already admitted the need to switch things up.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to make some adjustments because his qualities are unique and we don’t have anybody to replace these qualities in the squad unless we start to move a lot of pieces,” he said as quoted by Arseblog.
“Without any time to train that’s a little bit dangerous to do. We’re going to have to find different ways to fulfil that gap and use other things that can be as effective as well.”
It would be interesting to see how the Gunners boss reacts to the latest setback as the Gunners hope to go all the way in the Europa League and perhaps end their season on a high.