Arsenal dealt hammer blow as star ruled out of Manchester City clash

The Gunners will have to make do without a key man

Arsenal have been handed a massive blow as William Saliba has been ruled out of their title showdown at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night after failing to recover from a back injury.

The Frenchman, who has been impressive for the Gunners in his first full season with the club, picked up an issue during their Europa League round of 16 defeat to Sporting Lisbon, having to be substituted after just 21 minutes in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium.

He has not featured since, and his absence has been keenly felt, with Mikel Arteta’s side drawing their last three Premier League games, conceding seven goals in the process and throwing away their advantage over Manchester City in second place.

Pep Guardiola’s side now sit five points behind the Gunners, but have two games in hand and could move as many as four points ahead should they prove victorious at the Etihad and also win their games in hand, a deficit that Arsenal may struggle to overturn in the remaining five games of the season.

Speaking on Thursday, Arteta cast doubt on his defender’s fitness, adding that his progress had been slow.

“The picture hasn’t changed from last week. We have to wait a little bit more. He’s not progressing as quick as we hoped. Probably next week we will have a bit more certainty”, he told the media.

And now, the Athletic report that ‘recent assessments have failed to show sufficient progress’ in the defender, meaning that he will sit out the game in Manchester, with the news coming as a hammer blow to his side.

Worse still, they add that there are ‘increasing fears his campaign might be over’ as he struggles to recover from his back problem. Should that prove the case, it would be a massive issue for the Gunners in their title run in.

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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