Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could be considering fielding a Gunners starting lineup without William Saliba in the Premier League for the first time this season.
Arteta’s options are constrained if he is forced to choose a replacement for Saliba when Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners took a big physical and mental toll in their Europa League defeat to Sporting CP on Thursday. Several players, including Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu, were hauled off in the first half due to niggles and cramping.
Tomiyasu’s situation was especially concerning, as the full-back appeared to have suffered a knee injury in a terrible accident and had to leave the Field on crutches.
Mikel Arteta stated after the game that the situation appeared ‘very bad’ (via Daily Mail). Saliba, on the other hand, had some discomfort and could not continue,’ according to the manager.
Arteta to find alternatives for William Saliba
Despite the setbacks, there is some hope that Gabriel, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Leandro Trossard, who all sustained knocks on Thursday, will be able to play against Crystal Palace.
Still, Arteta will be crossing his fingers that Saliba recovers quickly in time for Arsenal’s critical match.
However, if the Gunners had to lineup without the French defender, Football London reports Rob Holding to be the best substitute available to slot into the role.
This season, he has served as the backup right-sided center-back. Moreover, the 21-year-old was replaced by the Englishman on Thursday.
While Benjamin White is set to remain at right-back with Tomiyasu out injured.
Then there’s January addition Jakub Kiwior, who is yet to make an appearance in the Premier League and was brought in primarily to provide support for Gabriel.
While some recent reports suggest the Poland international has experience playing as a right-sided central defender, replacing Saliba would be a huge risk given the rarity of two left-footers at the heart of a defence.