Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faces a fresh defensive dilemma with Takehiro Tomiyasu ruled out for the remainder of the season. A scan has revealed the full extent of the knee injury that the Japan international suffered in the Gunners’ Europa League defeat to Sporting Lisbon. The results of the scan mean Tomiyasu will be absent for the remainder of the club’s Premier League title battle with Manchester City.
Tomiyasu’s injury places several team-mates under pressure to perform in the final two months of the season. Express Sport looks at those who Arsenal will be counting on over the coming months...
Arteta has often preferred Ben White to Tomiyasu at right-back. The former Brighton ace, who had mostly played at centre-back before this season, has impressed in an unfamiliar role.
But White now has little competition for his place after Tomiyasu’s injury. Cedric Soares was loaned out to Fulham in January, meaning there are no other senior right-backs at the club.
White must perform to the very best of his ability in Arsenal’s final 10 games. And most crucially, he must remain fully fit or else Arteta will have a real headache in the position.
Tomiyasu had also deputised at left-back this season. Oleksandr Zinchenko is the first-choice option in the position and now faces a similar predicament to White - the pressure to continue performing and to maintain full fitness.
The Ukrainian has been one of Arsenal’s best Players this season. His leadership qualities have helped to instil a winning culture at the Emirates Stadium.
But, like White, Zinchenko will now need to be at his usual consistent best, and fully sharp, for the remainder of the season.
Unlike White at right-back, Zinchenko does indeed have some competition for his position. But in Kieran Tierney, Arsenal have a player who can hardly be relied upon for a gruelling 10-game period.
Tierney has always impressed in an Arsenal shirt but his injuries have limited the Scotland star’s appearances this season, as they have in his entire Emirates career.
The 25-year-old has played in 19 Premier League games this term but only four of those were starts.
With Tomiyasu injured, Tierney must make sure he is available to play to properly deputies for Zinchenko who surely cannot play the full 90 minutes in every game left this season.
The 18-year-old defender was snapped in first-team training after Saliba’s injury. Mikel Arteta is likely to call on the academy starlet for senior duties, with a place on the bench for matches before the end of the season a possibility.
Should White suffer an injury, there is a plausibility that right-back Walters might need to play. To throw the teenager into an intense title battle in his first few months of his senior career would be a test of his personality.
And it is a challenge he will need to step up to should it come to that.