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Arsenal fear ‘serious’ Takehiro Tomiyasu injury blow as William Saliba also limps out of Sporting defeat

Mikel Arteta fears Takehiro Tomiyasu could have suffered a serious injury after the Arsenal defender was substituted in the Europa League.

The versatile Japan international started Thursday night’s round of 16 second leg against Sporting Lisbon but played less than 10 minutes before falling uncomfortably after an awkward fall after apparently getting his cleats stuck in the ground.

Tomiyasu was quickly replaced by Ben White and became later pictured leaving Emirates Stadium on crutches A surprising early exit from Europe’s second-tier club competition after Premier League leaders Arsenal went 1-1 (3-3 on aggregate) followed by a heartbreaking 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat that saw Gabriel Martinelli save his penalty had to accept.

To make matters worse for Arsenal, Tomiyasu’s fellow defender William Saliba was also injured early on against Sporting and was sent off after 20 minutes, leaving Arteta nervous ahead of Sunday’s London home derby against now managerless top-flight Crystal Palace.

Arsenal lost Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury in the early stages against Sporting Lisbon (REUTERS)

Arsenal lost Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury in the early stages against Sporting Lisbon (REUTERS)

“Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction straight after and from what he said to me, but obviously it’s very early days,” the Spaniard told reporters when asked for an update on the double injury. “Willy [Saliba]? I don’t know, he was kind of uneasy and couldn’t go on, so we had to get him out.”

Pressured whether he would worry about the long-term impact of his team’s further injuries in the title race, Arteta said: “We’ve suffered injuries all season.

“We had Emily [Smith Rowe] four months absent [Gabriel] Jesus for four months, Thomas [Partey] for a month and a half, Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] for two and a half months, Eddie [Nketiah] for a month and a half. We’ve had quite a few injuries, but we’ve dealt with them.

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Tomiyasu's departure was immediately followed by the departure of his fellow defender William Saliba (REUTERS)

Tomiyasu’s departure was immediately followed by the departure of his fellow defender William Saliba (REUTERS)

“The disappointment will not go away, it is there now. But there is also clarity. There are now 11 games left and we have a final against Crystal Palace. We have to recover and put all our focus on it and win.”

Gabriel Jesus started against Sporting for the first time in four months after recovering from knee surgery following the World Cup in Qatar.

He was also replaced at half-time by the fit Leandro Trossard but Arteta has reassured Arsenal fans that was always the plan and wasn’t prompted by a worrying setback.

“We chose it because we had to manage the submarines,” he said. “Thank God we got him out, especially after the two windows we had to use in the first half. That was the plan. Lion [Trossard] also comes from injury and we knew the game could go into overtime and we had to do that. He looked okay.”

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