Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League on penalties by Sporting CP on Thursday, ending their chances of potentially winning a double this season.

It could perhaps be a blessing in disguise for Mikel Arteta’s men, with fewer games now until the end of the season, it should alleviate some of the burden placed on the players having to play twice a week.

The loss against Sporting may have been more significant than first thought, however, with defenders Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba coming off in the first half with injuries.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Spaniard was asked how the two players were, saying: “I don’t know. Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his reaction straight and what he said to me, but obviously, it’s very early. Willy? I don’t know, he had some discomfort and could not continue so we had to take him out.”

Not the best of news and while Arteta has Ben White who could come straight in for Tomiyasu, there might be a conundrum over who should partner Gabriel at the heart of the defence, but he should certainly unleash Jakub Kiwior in place of Saliba.

Will William Saliba miss the Crystal Palace match?

Arsenal will assess the Frenchman over the next 24 hours to see if he will be available to play against Crystal Palace, however, it might be better in the long run if Arteta gives him extra time to recover, especially if the injury isn’t as bad as first feared.

In that instance, Kiwior should be the man to come in at the heart of defence. The £20m January signing from Spezia struggled in his only appearance for the club against Sporting last week - having been hooked late on by Arteta - however he looks like a player that could command a starting spot in the coming years.

During the first half of the campaign, the Polish defender was in superb form for the Serie A side making 1.4 interceptions, 1.3 tackles, and four clearances per game, while winning over half of his total duels and ranking as the club’s seventh-best player in the Italian top-flight.

The 23-year-old even played a solid role for his country at the recent World Cup, ranking as Poland’s tenth-best player as they bowed out to France at the last 16 stage, and it’s clear he has the ability to perform at the highest stage.

Talent scout Jacek Kulig has described Kiwior as “a very positive surprise” following his performances this season and if there is any uncertainty regarding Saliba’s involvement tomorrow, the manager must unleash the 6 foot 2 titan at centre-back.

2023-03-18T20:22:42Z dg43tfdfdgfd