Arsenal faces a potential déjà vu scenario reminiscent of William Saliba’s season-ending injury last year, only this time it’s Declan Rice in the spotlight. The club’s fitness concerns have escalated following their recent North London Derby clash.
Mikel Arteta was already grappling with the absence of key players like Jurrien Timber, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Martinelli, and Leandro Trossard as they headed into the Tottenham match.
Despite a valiant effort that saw them take the lead twice, they settled for a draw, leaving Arsenal unbeaten in the league but trailing slightly behind the leaders with two draws to their name. However, the real concern emerged regarding Declan Rice’s fitness.
Rice, the highly-regarded England international, had been impressing since joining the club, but at half-time during the derby, he had to be replaced by Jorginho due to injury.
Arteta clarified the situation, explaining, “He [Rice] had some discomfort in his back.
He was telling us during the first half that he was uncomfortable. When we assessed him at half time he could not continue so we had to change him.”
The severity of Rice’s injury remains uncertain, with upcoming EFL Cup action and another Premier League clash on the horizon.
However, the back issue raises concerns reminiscent of William Saliba’s injury last season in the Europa League, where he injured his back against Sporting CP and was sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.
Saliba’s absence was deeply felt in the team’s defensive line, and his injury highlighted the delicate balance required to protect a player’s back, given the physical demands of football, including sprinting and dueling on the pitch.
Saliba’s case was managed with a focus on long-term recovery rather than risking further injury by returning too soon.
While it remains to be seen if Rice’s injury is as severe, Arsenal will undoubtedly hope to avoid a repeat of last season’s nightmare, where a key player’s back ailment derailed their title aspirations.
The coming days will provide crucial insights into Rice’s condition, and Arsenal will be eager to ensure his rehabilitation is managed with utmost care to prevent any protracted absence from the team.