Premier League • England

Arsenal confirm vital star’s season is over after knee surgery, with dubious Arteta decision coming back to bite

Arsenal defenders William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu battling Man City striker Erling Haaland

Arsenal have confirmed versatile defender Takehiro Tomiyasu will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery, and a decision made by Mikel Arteta in January is coming back to bite.

The Gunners have won six straight in the Premier League since falling to a 3-1 defeat against Man City on February 15. Arsenal have stretched their lead atop the table to eight points, though Pep Guardiola’s side do have a game in hand.

Gabriel Jesus aside, it’s been relatively smooth sailing for Arsenal this season with regards to injuries. However, that trend changed during their contest with Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League last Thursday.

Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba were both forced off with injuries inside 21 minutes. Saliba’s issue is understood to be in his back, while Tomiyasu’s problem is his right knee.

Now, Arsenal have confirmed their worst fears over Tomiyasu with the Japan international’s season now over after undergoing knee surgery.

Tomiyasu season over

A club statement read: “Following his substitution during last Thursday’s Europa League match, subsequent assessments have confirmed that Takehiro Tomiyasu sustained a significant injury to his right knee.

“Tomi has had successful surgery in London on Tuesday and will be ruled out for the remainder of this season.

“Everyone at the club will now be working hard with Tomi, so he can join pre-season training ahead of next season.”

Tomiyasu had not been a regular starter this season with Ben White Arteta’s first choice at right-back.

However, he’s performed capably whenever required and his versatility – being capable of playing literally anywhere in a backline – will be missed. Indeed, he famously kept Mohamed Salah quiet while deployed at left-back during Arsenal’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool on October 9.

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January decision could haunt Arteta

Mikel Arteta did have a third-choice right-back on the books earlier this season, though sanctioned a loan move for Cedric Soares to Fulham in January.

Sky Sports previously reported in the run-up to the winter window Arteta was on the fence about letting Cedric go. Indeed, with a first title since 2004 on the horizon, the Spaniard did not want to make a move that could backfire.

Sky’s Michael Bridge said in late-November: “My information is that Arteta feels they might be a little bit light, so they might stop one of the fringe players going.

“For example, there’s a lot of interest in Cedric and my understanding is he wants to move on, but Arsenal won’t allow that unless they bring someone else in.”

Arsenal did not bring another right-back in during the January window, but did allow Cedric to move across the capital to Fulham.

The Portuguese left on a six-month loan and whether the Gunners can recall the 31-year-old is as yet unknown.

If they can’t, Arteta will be praying Ben White keeps a clean bill of health between now and the end of the season. His alternative options to play at right-back if White goes down too are far from ideal.

If Rob Holding is required to play at centre-half in the event Saliba misses time, Arteta would not have another right-footed defender to call upon in his current squad.