83 days and 15 matches since Arsenal final tasted defeat. A uncommon clear sheet. And secure passage secured to the knockout phases of the Europa League. And but after Danny Welbeck collapsed to the turf in apparent agony, none of that actually appeared to matter.

This was an odd, subdued night time at The Emirates, when first Welbeck after which Stephan Lichtsteiner suffered severe accidents. Arsenal by no means needed to depart second gear right here, just for the 2 nasty accidents to all of the sudden sap all of their momentum, like air dashing from a balloon. Welbeck’s was significantly dangerous, the ahead showing to dislocate his ankle earlier than being rushed to hospital. Lichtsteiner then collapsed to the turf round an hour later so as to add insult to harm.

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Afterwards, an ashen-faced Unai Emery was in no temper to dwell on Arsenal’s achievements.

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“Welbeck has gone to hospital and now we’re going to have to attend, however we predict it’s a severe harm,” he sighed. “He was working nicely for us and having a great match, however when you find yourself taking part in in aggressive matches this may occur. This can be a massive harm for him, for us all, and for all of the individuals who love him like an individual.”

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Arsenal weren’t the one staff with issues, after all. Sporting headed to London with no supervisor after disposing of Jose Peseiro final week, following a 2-1 loss at dwelling to second-tier facet Estoril. Understandably then they have been content material to play for some extent, nearly managing it regardless of failing to register a single shot on the right track for the second European match in succession. The draw retains alive the slim chance of them overhauling Arsenal on the high of the group. Don’t wager on it.

Fairly how they stored a clear sheet is anyone’s guess, significantly after Jeremy Mathieu was despatched off for a drained late lunge on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with only a few minutes remaining. However the ahead ballooned his free-kick over the crossbar, having earlier fired wastefully into the side-netting from shut vary. Henrikh Mkhitaryan additionally had his moments, meandering into the field late on solely to prod a tame shot immediately into Renan Ribeiro’s grateful arms. It was that type of night time.

That this wasn’t to be Arsenal’s night grew to become obvious midway via the first-half, when Welbeck fell to the turf. After discovering himself linked with January strikes to each Crystal Palace and Tottenham on this week’s newspapers, Welbeck absolutely thought his week couldn’t get any worse, nevertheless it was apparent from the second he tangled legs with Bruno Gaspar that he was in actual hassle.

The response of his fellow gamers informed you every thing you wanted to know: Matteo Gunedouzi watched on with horror via splayed fingers as an oxygen masks was was slapped over Welbeck’s face, whereas Nani crouched on the turf to console his former Manchester United team-mate. The physios who ran onto the pitch appeared to counsel he had suffered a dislocated ankle and, if that’s the case, the remainder of his season is in peril. A leg brace was duly utilized earlier than he was taken to hospital.

The harm sucked what little environment had been tentatively brewing across the stadium and, watching Welbeck being stretchered down the tunnel, it was troublesome not to wonder if that is the final we’ll see of him in an Arsenal shirt. Out of contract in the summertime, his newest harm will come as a blow to any potential suitors in addition to England supervisor Gareth Southgate, who had earlier that day named him in his squad for the forthcoming internationals in opposition to the USA and Croatia.

Simply two weeks in the past Welbeck was Arsenal’s hero as he cooly slotted dwelling a late winner in Lisbon; how completely different the circumstances this time round, and what a merciless blow to a participant who has been beating on the door of the first-team having scored 4 instances in his 5 cup outings this season. He had began this match nicely, too, threatening often in an thrilling if unlikely strike partnership with Emile Smith Rowe.

Aubameyang was unable to interrupt the impasse (Getty)

This was one more night time the place Arsenal’s children shone brightest. Gunedouzi was despatched off in his final match however didn’t put a foot fallacious right here, spraying through-balls down both flank and repeatedly dropping the shoulder to scuttle into area. Forward of him Smith Rowe was equally spectacular, an 18-year-old upstart deployed within the liberating central attacking position that Aaron Ramsey craves nearly as a lot as that £300k-a-week wage.

How can Ramsey complain with a deeper position in Arsenal’s engine room when that is how Smith Rowe performs when handed centre stage? {The teenager} was electrical: repeatedly threatening from distance and gliding into area as if carrying rollerblades, on a regular basis waved ahead by an more and more enthusiastic Emery.

And but for all of Smith Rowe’s beguiling flicks and tips, Sporting’s stout rearguard was to carry agency, even after Mathieu was given his marching orders. The Frenchman departed shortly after Lichtsteiner, who tweaked a hamstring lumbering after a long-ball and can be part of Welbeck on the sidelines. “It’s muscular and we’re going to do a scan tomorrow to search out out his harm,” added Emery.

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