Arsenal boss Unai Emery has confirmed that star defender Hector Bellerín was withdrawn at half-time during his side’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace due to injury, and that he is hopeful that the player will return to face Liverpool next weekend.
The Spain international was replaced by Stephan Lichtsteiner at half-time, as the Gunners went into the interval a goal down following Luka Milivojević’s cooly taken penalty. Emery’s side rallied and pulled in front after goals from Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but another penalty from Milivojević ensured that the Eagles snatched a precious point late on.
Speaking after the match, via the Metro, Emery gave an update on Bellerín’s condition, confirming that the half-time change was due to an injury rather than a tactical manoeuvre. He said: “Yes, he’s injured. I hope it’s not a big injury, but he had muscular pains. I don’t know (whether he’s a doubt for the Liverpool game next Saturday).
It is clearly too soon to tell the extent of Bellerin’s injury, but Arsenal fans will be desperate to have the tenacious defender back in time for the big clash against the Reds. Jürgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten this season, but the Gunners’ own unbeaten run now stretching to 11 games in all competitions will provide them with a great deal of confidence heading into the match.
After a shaky start to the season, the Gunners have come on leaps and bounds under Emery, and the side currently sit fourth in the Premier League table – just four points behind current leaders Liverpool. A win against the Merseysiders would send out a real warning to fellow title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Emery defended the reaction of Gunners ace Mesut Özil following the Crystal Palace match, claiming that the former Germany international’s reaction of tearing off his gloves and storming into the dugout after being substituted was a normal reaction. The 30-year-old has been in good form for his side this season, scoring four goals in ten appearances.