Danny Welbeck’s horrendous injury cast a shadow over the whole evening at the Emirates on Thursday with the striker’s Arsenal future now very much in the spotlight.
With his contract up in the summer, there is the very real possibility that the 27-year-old’s short lived appearance against Sporting CP could be his last in an Arsenal shirt.
We will await the initial prognosis of his recovery timeframe, but given the serious nature of the break, Welbeck has to be facing up to a spell of at least six months on the sidelines.
Should that be the case, then there is little chance of him playing again before the season is over and that will then leave Arsenal facing a very difficult decision in regards to the forward.
Welbeck is a hugely popular figure in north London but there has not been much of a will at the club to extend his current contract, which runs out in the summer.
Given what has happened now, however, the club may feel that they owe Welbeck time to recover without the stress and pressure of his deal running down.
When something similar happened with Santi Cazorla, Arsene Wenger extended the Spaniard’s deal by 12-months to allow him to concentrate purely on his rehabilitation, something Cazorla has publicly thanked Wenger for.
Whether Arsenal do the same for Welbeck remains to be seen, but they will be under pressure to do right by their popular forward, should the initial fears over his injury be confirmed.
Mislintat’s transfer priority
One thing Welbeck’s injury must surely mean is that Arsenal will have to look to make a move in the January transfer window.
Head of football, Raul Sanllehi, recently hinted that the club would not do any business in the winter window but that stance surely has to change now.
Arsenal were already short in terms of attacking options and now they are looking threadbare. Sven Mislintat will no doubt have been preparing a list of targets for the summer, with the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Cristian Pavon already linked, but Arsenal’s head of recruitment must now bring forward any plans he may have had about adding firepower to the squad.
Welbeck my not have been a regular starter in the Premier League, but he was still a key part of the squad and a player who could play as the central striker or out wide.
Now the only senior options available to Unai Emery are Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Should anything happen to either of them, then he is left with just Eddie Nketiah as back up.
The teenager is an exciting prospect but the fact he has yet to play a single minute for the first-team this season says a lot about where Emery thinks the young frontman is right now.
Arsenal have given themselves a good chance of making a real push for a top four spot following their strong start to the season, but given the quality of the sides they are up against they will have to maintain their current form.
The games will come thick and fast after Christmas and you feel Welbeck will have to be replaced if Arsenal are to maintain their challenge for the Champions League spots.
The Reiss Nelson option
One option Emery could have which wouldn’t involve spending a vast amount to money, is bringing Reiss Nelson back to the club .
The young attacker is currently on loan at Hoffenheim and has enjoyed a superb start to the season in Germany, scoring five goals in six Bundesliga appearances.
He is due to spend the season on loan with Julian Nagelsmann’s side, but last month he hinted himself there was a chance he could return early.
Emery refused to discuss that very possibility in the build-up to Thursday’s game when discussing the start Nelson had made to his spell at Hoffenheim.
Given how well he is doing in Germany, there would be no point bringing the young attacker back if he wasn’t going to play, but Welbeck’s injury could well open the door to the Arsenal first-team for the 18-year-old.
A new centre-back partnership
Sokratis was surprisingly thrown straight back into action by Unai Emery on Thursday night despite having only just recovered from an ankle injury.
But there were no signs of rustiness from the Greece international, who produced an imperious performance in the heart of defence alongside Rob Holding.
While Sokratis has been out, Holding and Shkodran Mustafi have been paired together and have performed well enough – but you do get the sense that the pairing of Sokratis and Holding could be strongest that Arsenal have right now.
They appear to compliment each other well and are a nice mix of youth and experience. Sokratis brings brute force and know how, while Holding is calm and composed on the ball and is improving every week.
It’s a promising blend and one Arsenal should use more of over the coming weeks.
Time for the kids
Arsenal may not have won the group with Thursday’s draw, but Unai Emery should still use the upcoming game against FC Vorskla as an opportunity to give young players some game time.
With the north London derby following just three days after the trip to Ukraine on November 29 and then a trip to Manchester United following straight after, Arsenal can’t afford to risk any of their star names for the penultimate group stage game.
Emery should just take the kids with him and give them game time and back his senior players to get the job done against Qarabag at the Emirates if needs be on December 13.