Mikel Arteta refused to criticise Brighton striker Neal Maupay after his role in an incident which saw Bernd Leno stretchered off the pitch during the 2-1 defeat to Brighton today.
The Frenchman nudged the Arsenal keeper as he claimed a ball in the air, knocking him off balance and causing him to land badly and hyper-extend his knee.
The German’s screams were instantly audible in an empty stadium, and while the Arsenal boss says that the injury doesn’t look good, he declared the incident ‘unfortunate’.
“I believe that no player has the intention to hurt anybody and I believe in this case it’s exactly the same, it was unfortunate,” said Arteta.
“Bernd’s injury doesn’t look good and we will have to assess him probably tomorrow, but it can happen on a football pitch. It’s a knee injury, I think he had a hyper-extension of the knee and we have to assess the damage.
“He was in a lot of pain but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see how bad the damage is.”
He also refused to use the loss of another player to serious injury as a reason for the final result, which saw the Gunners go down 2-1 to their relegation threatened opponents, with Maupay – of course – scoring an injury-time winner.
“No, I don’t think that’s the case because a lot of things happened afterwards, we scored the goal and we had more than enough opportunities to put the game to bed so we can’t use it as an excuse,” he continued.
Earlier Arteta declared the way his team conceded both goals as unacceptable, while Leno himself clearly felt that Maupay was at fault – angrily pointing his finger at him as he was taken off the pitch.
Fingers crossed it’s not as serious as it appears to be, but it’s the latest in a litany of injuries Arsenal have suffered in recent times.
Calum Chambers suffered a cruciate knee injury in January; Lucas Torreira had his ankle broken against Portsmouth; Pablo Mari probably needs surgery on an Achilles tendon problem picked up on Wednesday night; while Granit Xhaka also has an ankle injury sustained in the same game.
Sokratis is out with a thigh strain, while loan signing Cedric Soares won’t be available for two weeks because of a facial injury – that’s if Arsenal do a deal to extend his contract, a situation complicated by the fact he’s out of contract with his parent club Southampton at the end of June.
The goalkeeping situation is also a bit up in the air. Current third choice Matt Macey’s deal runs out on June 30th, and if Leno is going to be sidelined for some time, they may have to offer him a short-term deal or dig deeper into the reserves for back-up to Martinez.