Mikel Arteta could not guarantee Kieran Tierney would return for Arsenal’s next match against Newcastle United after he missed the goalless draw with Crystal Palace.
Tierney has been one of the Gunners’ outstanding performers in a tough season, creating more chances than any other Arsenal player in all competitions (28).
Muscle tightness meant he sat out at home to Palace on Thursday, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles asked to fill in at left-back and struggling.
The England international did not create a single chance, failed to find a team-mate with his only cross, and was replaced by Nicolas Pepe with 25 minutes remaining.
That substitution saw Bukayo Saka – another standout star this term – moved to left-back, yet he also underwhelmed, finishing with only two key passes.
After the stalemate, which ended a four-match winning run in all competitions, Arsenal did not shy away from the significance of Tierney’s absence.
“He’s a real threat,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “In the way we’re playing and the way we attack on that left-hand side, he’s a really important player.
“We didn’t have him, he’s injured, and we have to find another solution.”
Arsenal do not play again until Monday, but their manager added of Tierney’s recovery: “I do not know [if he will be back].
“It depends how he evolves. He’s going to have an MRI scan tomorrow and we’ll see how he is.”
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 14, 2021
Right-back Hector Bellerin was also quizzed on the impact of his team-mate missing the match.
“I think we do miss every single player when they’re not on the pitch, but we also have great players coming back,” he said.
“I think Ainsley did a great job again filling in, such a versatile player, but it’s true that Kieran also was enjoying very good form.
“We did miss that probably on the left side, but we have very talented players in many areas that can come in. We’re not a team that boils down to just one player.
“We need to find ways to be creative, to break down other teams, whatever the challenge they give us, and we need to keep improving on that.”
Arsenal kept a first home Premier League clean sheet since July 1 but only after James Tomkins headed against the crossbar and Bernd Leno made a superb save from Christian Benteke.
The Gunners offered little going the other way, having only two shots before half-time and scarcely threatening Vicente Guaita’s goal with any of their nine second-half efforts.
A disappointed Bellerin added: “We’ve been enjoying winning lately. We know that we’re doing everything we can, we’re working really hard, we’re doing what the boss tells us to do.
“But sometimes football games are like this; we cannot win all of them.
“We are in part of a process, we feel like we understand each other on the pitch and the way that the coach wants us to play more and more, then sometimes it’s down to the final shot or the final decision. Today we weren’t as good in that situation.”