Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Sporting in the Europa League on Thursday night must be seen as a poor result for the Gunners. However, with qualification from their group assured, Unai Emery will be far more concerned with the condition of Danny Welbeck.
The 27-year-old fell awkwardly in the first half and it quickly became clear that the situation was serious. Anxious teammates gathered round as the 42-cap England international was given lengthy treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off.
After the match, Emery confirmed that the initial prognosis was serious and that the forward had been removed to hospital with a potential ankle break, as reported by the club’s official website.
The manager said:
“It’s the worst news tonight, this injury. It’s clear that we are with him in these minutes… Yes, now he is at the hospital. The news is that we are going to wait – but we think it’s a serious injury.”
Welbeck has five goals to his name so far this season and has proved himself to be a valuable and versatile squad member to Emery.
The Spanish coach’s thoughts may already be considering how to cope without the striker for what will surely be a lengthy absence.
At this stage, the club’s fourth-choice centre-forward may have just become the third in line. 19-year-old Eddie Nketiah is yet to feature so far this season but has appeared on the bench on numerous occasions and impressed for the club during pre-season.
The England U21 international made his senior debut last season but truly made a mark in his second appearance. Coming on as a late substitute in an EFL cup tie, the teenager’s match-winning brace saw the Gunners complete a dramatic comeback at the Emirates Stadium.
By the end of the campaign, Nketiah had featured for the north London club’s first team 10 times in all competitions, including three Premier League outings.
The youngster may be in line for some more game time now, though, in light of Welbeck’s unfortunate injury. With Welbeck’s contract with the club set to expire at the end of this season too, Nketiah has a golden opportunity to stake a claim for being the ex-Manchester United man’s long-term replacement as well.