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William Saliba is one of five Arsenal players Mikel Arteta cannot afford to be without for the remainder of the season. The France defender suffered an injury during Thursday’s Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon.
Saliba limped off in the first half of the last-16 second-leg loss at the Emirates. It is not yet known how long the problem will keep him out for.
He could be available as early as Sunday’s visit of Crystal Palace. But with the international break looming, Arteta may view that as a good time to get him back to full fitness.
There are four other players Arteta cannot afford to lose. Express Sport looks at each of the five stars on an individual basis.
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There is only one player who could come in for Saliba in Arteta’s side. Rob Holding is the only other right-sided centre-back in the squad.
But he has played just 17 minutes in the Premier League this season. Arteta will be desperate to hear some good news on Saliba’s injury.
Saliba has started every league match this season alongside Gabriel. The Brazilian is susceptible to a mistake but has become increasingly reliable throughout the campaign.
Jakub Kiwior would be the natural replacement for Gabriel, as he is left-footed. But the Poland international was less than convincing on his debut in the Europa League following his arrival in January.
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Arsenal have lost just three league matches all season. Partey was missing for two of them and was substituted at 0-0 in the 1-0 loss at Everton.
That just shows the importance he brings to Arteta’s side. Jorginho is an experienced backup but isn’t at the level of the Ghana star.
Skipper Odegaard is labelled by some as the best player in the league this season. He is contributing regularly in terms of goals and assists and his leadership is instrumental to this team.
Fabio Vieira has shown glimpses of quality in his debut campaign. However, he wouldn’t be able to fill the void left if Odegaard was absent.
Arsenal have seen their attacking options increase in recent months. Leandro Trossard joined in January, while Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Jesus are back fit.
But none of them are comfortable playing off the right. Saka has made that position his own and is irreplaceable for Arteta.
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