Tierney was withdrawn in the 29th minute after an awkward fall, using the bottom of his shirt as a makeshift sling. The club is still deciding on whether he will require surgery, according to Mann-Bryans, and that decision will ultimately determine the length of time he will miss. Still, even without surgery, it could leave him sidelined for a month or more.
The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries since joining the Gunners this past summer, missing the first seven games of the year with a hip injury. He has seen action in just five Premier League games thus far, and again could be sidelined for a significant spell. He could also end up missing Scotland’s critical playoff match against Israel in late March depending on his recovery timeline and fitness level.
Tierney’s injury is not the only one Arsenal is currently sweating. Granit Xhaka will miss the Europa League group stage finale against Standard Liege with a concussion, while Hector Bellerin is struggling with a hamstring problem. “Hector had a feeling in his hamstring during the warm-up [before West Ham] and we took the decision,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg after the win over the Hammers. “Not going to force anyone to play if they don’t feel 100%.”
Dani Ceballos is still sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered against Vitoria in October Europa League play and won’t return to training until later this month, while Rob Holding is a question mark this week after missing the West Ham game thanks to a bruised knee.
Arsenal, currently sitting ninth in the Premier League table and is scheduled to host Manchester City this coming Sunday following the trip to Belgium. They have upcoming games against Everton, Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Manchester United through the festive period.
Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg will have an injury headache to sort out, especially at full back, as Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney were both injured before and during the 3-1 win at the London Stadium.
Bellerin felt his hamstring go in the warm up and the Spaniard was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who performed well.
“Hector had a feeling in his hamstring during the warm-up and we took the decision. Not going to force anyone to play if they don’t feel 100%,” Ljungberg said. “It was a straight swap on that with Ainsley. Ainsley has been out in the cold a little bit but came in and did really well. I’m really proud of him.”
As for Tierney, who suffered a shoulder injury during the game, the prognosis on the Scottish left back doesn’t appear as positive as Bellerin.
“It’s something with his shoulder but I don’t know exactly what that is. We obviously had to take him off. He’s going to hospital to get it checked,” Ljungberg added.
The Gunners have enough defensive issues as it is without throwing a few injuries to arguably their best right and left backs.
Arsenal have plenty of walking wounded right now, as Rob Holding wasn’t in the squad to face West Ham due to a knee injury flaring up, while Dani Ceballos and Emile Smith-Rowe are still working their way back to full fitness.
Remarkably, Arsenal are just seven points off the top four given the firing of Unai Emery, their woeful defensive displays and their worst-ever start to a season.
Ljungberg’s boys host Man City on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) which looks like being a straight shootout between two teams who can score at will but can’t keep them out at the other end.
The Gunners are great to watch for the neutrals, but these defensive injuries continue to hamper any recovery post-Emery.
The Foxes go second in the table with 26 points, a point more than Man City before the defending champs visit Liverpool on Sunday.
Arsenal is now eight points back of fourth place, sinking below fifth place Sheffield United on goal differential.
Three things we learned
1. Unai Emery‘s race is run: Yeah, it’s dangerous to make judgments on a week-to-week basis, but the Spaniard’s work at Arsenal has been tremendously disappointing. Opting for a 3-5-2 with Rob Holding, David Luiz, and Calum Chambers at the back, he demanded plenty from his midfield; Lucas Torreira and the usually strong Matteo Guendouzi failed to impress behind Mesut Ozil. He has no firm idea how to best deploy his talent, and again left Nicolas Pepe to rot on the bench while Leicester rang up a 2-0 lead.
2. Leicester onto something special, especially at home: There’s been luck along the way, but the Foxes have now taken 16 of 18 points at home during an unbeaten start to the season at King Power Stadium. Their proverbial tails are up and the style, freedom, and confidence of the opening goal tells you all you need to know about the vibe at KP this season. In the words of Arlo White… “Barnes… Tielemans… VARDY!!”
3. Leicester City built for style: If Rodgers’ Foxes are given room in the midfield, they are going to run through most teams. Arsenal opted to try and match the Foxes in fluidity and possession, and were unable to do so. Outdone in possession (52-48) and shots (19-8), Arsenal rarely looked prepared to challenge despite a couple early chances for Lacazette.
Man of the Match: Maddison will be the easy shout here, but Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi were magnificent in the center of the park. Any of the three works for us.
The Frenchman had held the position since early 2016 when handed the armband by Arsene Wenger with Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta both in the twilight of their Arsenal careers.
Emery has notably dragged out deciding on who to name as permanent captain despite handing Xhaka the armband in six of their eight matches to this point. Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil have also both served as captain once, both coming with Xhaka out of the lineup, although Monreal has since departed the club. Ornstein reports that a vice-captain has not yet been chosen, with strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both in consideration.
Xhaka, who turns 27 years old today, is considered to be a contentious choice by Emery given his up and down performances for the club since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2016. His first season was dreadful, with the midfielder twice sent off in his first season of Premier League play. He had raised his level of performance since, proving an important piece of the puzzle last season, but early this season his performances have again dipped, with Gunner fans voicing their displeasure on his withdrawal on 72 minutes in the narrow win over Aston Villa.
Defender Rob Holding confirmed after the Villa win that Emery has presented a group of five players to the rest of the squad to be voted on. “He likes his five captains,” Holding said. “We all did a vote the other week so we’ll see what happens and see who gets named. It was just a case of writing names down and then giving them to the manager and he will go through them – obviously with his input – and we’ll see what happens.”
Holding called it a “good environment” with a lot of players able to “get more input.” He also pointed out David Luiz as someone who has taken up a sort of leadership role.
Leicester City did it out of nowhere in 2015/16 and it’s the most remarkable example, but look at the others to have slid into the Top Six’s DMs in the past decade: Saints (6th) the same season as Leicester. Everton in 2012/13 and 2013/14 was predictable, but Newcastle in 2011/12? Please.
The point is: It’s way more difficult these days to estimate the table. Last year, Watford v. Wolves was a massive fixture. This year, so far, it’s an after thought.
Saturday’s tilt between Bournemouth and West Ham on the other hand? Now we’re talking…
Green: New season-high ranking Red: New season-low
20. Watford — Six months ago, a match-up between the Hornets and Wolves was for seventh-place in the Premier League. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, but also an inspiration for both sides because, well, how quickly things can change… Last week: 20 Season high: 19 Season low: 20 Last match: Lost 8-0 at Man City Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Wolves
19. Newcastle United — The Magpies midfield against Brighton was about as disorganized as a unit can look, both before and after Steve Bruce switched up the formation. Maybe they should just throw Joelinton, Andy Carroll, Miguel Almiron, and Allan Saint-Maximin together in a front four and roll with six defenders and four forwards. Relegation quality right now. Last week: 19 Season high: 19 Season low: 20 Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Brighton Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Leicester City
18. Brighton and Hove Albion — As poor as Newcastle played, the Seagulls didn’t convert any of their myriad chances. Also relegation quality right now. Last week: 18 Season high: 6 Season low: 18 Last match: Drew 0-0 at Newcastle Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea
17. Wolverhampton Wanderers — Something’s gotta give, and Wolves better hope it’s the reappearance of old foes Watford on the docket. Last week: 17 Season high: 7 Season low: 17 Last match: Drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford
16. Southampton — Hard to read, and a match-up with mercurial old mate Mauricio Pochettino on the horizon. Last week: 13 Season high: 13 Season low: 19 Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Bournemouth Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Spurs
15. Crystal Palace — WilfriedZaha‘s 475-minute start to the season without a goal or assist is his longest drought since February 2018. Bad news for the Canaries? Last week: 16 Season high: 14 Season low: 18 Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Wolves Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Norwich City
14. Everton — Have taken an amazing start of fixtures to start the season and managed a whopping seven points and the joint third-worst goal different in the league. Remarkably disappointing, but there are some encouraging stat lines. For one thing, only Man City is allowing fewer shots per match. Now if the Toffees could stop the few shots they do allow from being pure gifts to the opposition, or start to get some big moments out of the 15th-ranked goalkeeper in the Premier League, they’d be onto something. Last week: 12 Season high: 5 Season low: 14 Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Sheffield United Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Man City
13. Norwich City — Back to Earth after the remarkable Man City win, and possibly back in the Bottom Three if they can’t do work on Saturday at Selhurst Park. Last week: 10 Season high: 10 Season low: 20 Last match: Lost 2-0 at Burnley Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Crystal Palace
12. Burnley — An all-claret tussle with Villa this week will tell us a bit about whether the Clarets are relegation fodder or not. Last week: 15 Season high: 5 Season low: 15 Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa
11. Aston Villa — Dean Smith‘s men should’ve found a way to hold on for a point against 10-man Arsenal, but bad things happen to first-year teams. Big chance to re-assert strength when Burnley visits on Saturday. Last week: 11 Season high: 8 Season low: 15 Last match: Lost 3-2 at Arsenal Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley
10. Sheffield United — The Southampton loss is the only score on their season list that looks bad. Otherwise, Chris Wilder‘s men are holding their own with some in-form teams. Last week: 14 Season high: 10 Season low: 17 Last match: Won 2-0 at Everton Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool
9. Manchester United — Asking us to drop them lower, but the returns of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial should make Monday a beauty. Last week: 8 Season high: 2 Season low: 15 Last match: Lost 2-0 at West Ham Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Arsenal
8. Tottenham Hotspur — This week has felt a lot like last season’s three-loss week against West Ham, Ajax, and Bournemouth. The good news is that that turned out alright in the end. A visit from Southampton should help things, but will it? A refreshed Harry Kane should arrive on Saturday. Last week: 2 Season high: 2 Season low: 8 Last match: Lost 2-1 at Leicester Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Saints
7. Chelsea — Probably not as far off the pack as you think, and should’ve almost certainly had a point against Liverpool. Brighton should be concerned about this week’s trip to the Bridge. Last week: 4 Season high: 4 Season low: 12 Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Liverpool Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton
6. Bournemouth — Flying. Eddie Howe‘s men have us daydreaming again, but they let us down last year after inspiring similar thoughts. Monumental litmus test when the Irons visit on Saturday in what’s one of the matches of the weekend. Last week: 9 Season high: 6 Season low: 17 Last match: Won 3-1 at Southampton Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham United
5. West Ham United — Beat Bournemouth on Saturday and we’ll be thinking legitimately about a Top Six finish for Manuel Pellegrini‘s guys. Last week: 6 Season high: 5 Season low: 18 Last match: Won 2-0 v. Man Utd Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Bournemouth
4. Arsenal — Another team whose mercurial performances — Watford, anyone? — probably betrays how much promise they’ve shown overall. Let’s see how Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney, and Rob Holding reshape the defense. Last week: 7 Season high: 4 Season low: 7 Last match: Won 3-2 v. Aston Villa Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Manchester United
3. Leicester City — The real deal, with real depth. Brendan Rodgers has dealt well with the departure of Harry Maguire, and the Foxes should run cleanly through the Magpies to a meeting with ol’ pals Liverpool at Anfield on Oct. 5. Last week: 5 Season high: 3 Season low: 10 Last match: Won 2-1 v. Spurs Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Newcastle
2. Manchester City — Pep Guardiola didn’t know the Premier League single season record for goals was 8. Now he does. Food for thought. Last week: 3 Season high: 1 Season low: 3 Last match: Won 8-0 v. Watford Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Everton
1. Liverpool — Look, we realize this team won the Champions League last season and that it looks even better in attack and is even more refined in its system. Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 3 Last match: Won 2-1 at Chelsea Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United