When Danny Welbeck went down in Wednesday’s Europa League match against Sporting, you knew it was bad - the reaction of the players (Matteo Guendouzi in particular), the boot, the oxygen, the stretcher. All you could do was cross your fingers and hope.
Unfortunately, the reports are bleak. Doctors are still waiting for the swelling in his ankle to subside, but they fear he might have broken and displaced his ankle and suffered ligament damage. Arsenal are expected to provide an update on his condition within the next 72 hours, which should include whether he will need surgery.
All injuries suck, but this one feels like a particularly hard punch in the gut. As the outpouring of support on social media from current and former Arsenal players shows, Welbeck is incredibly well-liked. While some athletes come off as aloof, he seems like such a happy and fun-loving guy that it’s almost as if he’s your mate from schoolyard football.
He’s also out of contract at the end of the season, which is another worry. It’s possible that we’ve seen his last appearance in an Arsenal kit. The speculation was that he’d leave on a free transfer after the season, but the injury complicates things - if not for the club, at least for him.
That said, during Arsene Wenger’s tenure, the club was pretty good about offering players who had suffered serious injuries a new, short contract to prove they had regained fitness. Perhaps Arsenal will take the same route with Welbeck.
Regardless of how everything plays out, we’ll always have the Leicester goal. And don’t forget, he scored it coming back from a 10-month injury layoff, so maybe Arsenal should bring him back just in case they need another last-gasp winner.