ARSENAL have been handed a huge injury blow as they bid for their first league title since 2004.
However, they will have to do without France defender William Saliba.
The 21-year-old limped off against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League last-16 clash and had to be replaced by Rob Holding.
Now, reports in France suggest his absence from the first team could be long term.
L’Equipe claim the centre back could be missing for “several weeks”, and is set to withdraw from international duty.
Saliba was due to link up with the France squad for matches against the Netherlands and Ireland.
However, he will now be set for an extended period of time on the treatment table as he aims to recover for Arsenal’s title bid.
Saliba has been a mainstay in the Premier League leaders’ backline – forming a formidable partnership with Brazilian Gabriel.
The pair have been key to Mikel Arteta’s plans – helping their side rise to the top of the table.
Ex-Saint-Etienne stopper Saliba joined the North London giants in 2019 for £27million.
However, initially he appeared to struggle to settle in his new surroundings and was shipped out on loan.
Following a mixed spell at Nice, Saliba found his footing at Marseille and earned rave reviews in Ligue 1 last season.
This campaign, he has continued to blossom into one of Europe’s most promising defenders with a series of commanding displays at the back.
Arsenal’s misery last Thursday went beyond getting knocked out by Sporting on penalties.
They suffered ANOTHER hit to their squad with Takehiro Tomiyasu also subbed with a knee injury.
The Gunners sit five points clear of Man City in the league and could put pressure on their rivals with a win at the Emirates on Sunday.