David Luiz looks likely to miss Arsenal’s opener on Saturday at Fulham with a neck injury, according to David Ornstein. Luiz picked up the injury in the Community Shield, although it wasn’t apparent to my eye during the live watch, and later aggravated it in training.
The injury is currently keeping him out of full training, and depending on whether it responds to treatment, could keep him off the pitch for up to 6 weeks. And just like that, before the Premier League season has even started, the Gunners have an injury crisis. How very Arsenal-y of them.
Suddenly, the last minute decision to pull Rob Holding’s loan move to Newcastle makes more sense. With Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, and Calum Chambers already on the shelf, and Sokratis not really a fit for Mikel Arteta’s system, the Gunners options at centerback to open the season are limited. The Gunners are looking at a Rob Holding-William Saliba partnership for the opener, but I’d wager Arteta goes to a back three of Kieran Tierney, Holding, and Saliba.
Perhaps the bigger concern with the Luiz injury is what it means for the Gunners going forward at centerback. Arsenal need to offload at the position and were set to do so with the Holding move. That got pulled. Sokratis should be on his way out, but Arsenal may have to keep him just for numbers sake. Gabriel Magalhaes’ integration and debut could get sped up. Hopefully Luiz’s injury responds to treatment and he is back sooner rather than later.
Arsenal need David Luiz healthy both for his experience and fit in Mikel Arteta’s system and because a six-week absence would see him return after the transfer window closes, which makes Arsenal’s centerback logjam all the more difficult to clear.