Mikel Arteta's worst nightmare! Arsenal winners and losers as William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu are injured in shock Sporting setback

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The Gunners lost both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury before suffering a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to Sporting CP.

Arsenal are out of Europe, but the true cost of this penalty shootout defeat against Sporting CP may not be known for some while yet.

How Mikel Arteta’s side respond to such a demoralising and energy-sapping loss will be crucial, with the Premier League clash against Crystal Palace looming large on Sunday.

They have to somehow pick themselves up and go again, because they can’t afford to let this defeat derail their title bid at such a crucial stage of the season.

But with Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba going off injured before half-time against Sporting, the knock-on effects of this bruising encounter could be huge for the Gunners.

They will look back at their performance with real regret. They had the chance to put the tie to bed when Granit Xhaka gave them an early lead, but they failed to kill the visitors off and were made to pay the penalty.

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Pedro Goncalves' stunning long-range goal deservedly drew Sporting level and then Antonio Adan’s heroics were enough to send the Portuguese champions through, with the keeper pulling off several fine saves in extra-time before making the crucial stop in the penalty shootout to deny Gabriel Martinelli and send his side through.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Emirates Stadium...

  1. WINNER: Pedro Goncalves
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    WINNER: Pedro Goncalves

    Sometimes you see a goal that just takes the breath away and this was one of those occasions.

    Granit Xhaka’s pass to Jorginho was not the best, but there seemed to be nothing on when the loose ball fell into the path of Pedro Goncalves.

    But the vision that he showed to spot Aaron Ramsdale off his line was remarkable, as was the ability he demonstrated to lob the backpedalling keeper perfectly from just inside the Arsenal half.

    It was a quite stunning goal from Goncalves, one that will be shown for years to come.

  2. LOSER: Fabio Vieira
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    LOSER: Fabio Vieira

    Arsenal’s Portuguese playmaker was impressive in last week’s first leg, but he had a real off night in the return fixture in north London.

    Perhaps he was trying too hard to impress his fellow countrymen, but very little that he tried came off during a performance which got worse as the game wore on.

    Vieira has been looking much more at home in recent weeks and has been having more and more influence on games, but this was not a night where he took a step back in terms of his progress.

    With Martin Odegaard only named on the bench, this was a big opportunity for Vieira to stamp his authority on a game from a creative point of view.

    It was one he couldn’t take, however, and it was no surprise when Odegaard eventually replaced him.

  3. WINNER: Antonio Adan

    WINNER: Antonio Adan

    The Sporting keeper was the hero of the night for the visitors.

    While Goncalves’ goal will steal the headlines, the visitors would have been heading home disappointed had it not been for their keeper’s extra-time heroics.

    First, he pushed Leandro Trossard’s shot onto the post after the Arsenal forward had raced clean through. Then, he made two excellent stops in quick succession to deny Gabriel Magalhaes from successive set-piece situations in the closing stages.

    To top it all off, Adan made the crucial save in the shootout, guessing right to keep out Martinelli’s weak effort, paving the way for Nuno Santos to score the decisive penalty.

  4. LOSER: Arsenal's injured duo
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    LOSER: Arsenal's injured duo

    Arsenal celebrations in the aftermath of Xhaka’s goal were quickly cut short by the sight of Saliba limping off.

    The French centre-back has been a hugely influential player this season, starting every single Premier League game for Mikel Arteta’s side.

    So, the prospect of him potentially facing a spell on the sidelines would be a massive blow at this crucial stage of the season.

    And the injury was made even worse as it came on the back of Takehiro Tomiyasu being replaced just a short time earlier.

    The extent of both injuries will become clearer over the coming days, but Tomiyasu was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and Mikel Arteta admitted the problem appeared to be a serious one.

    As long as Ben White stays fit, a long lay-off for the Japan international would at least be manageable, but losing Saliba would represent a significant problem.

    Arsenal do at least have the international break coming up, which could limit the amount of games he could miss, but it was still a very worrying sight.

    The centre-back partnership of Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes has been the bedrock of Arsenal’s defence all season and the last thing Arteta would want would be for that to be broken up now.

  5. WINNER: Gabriel Jesus

    WINNER: Gabriel Jesus

    He may not have scored, but this was another big moment for Gabriel Jesus.

    After getting 13 minutes at Fulham on Sunday, this was the next test on his return to full fitness and it’s one that he seemed to pass comfortably.

    Given this was his first start since the win at Wolves in November, it was understandable that he was only given 45 minutes before being replaced by Trossard.

    But his performance up to that point was really encouraging and he was unlucky not to score when he forced Adan into a fine save after a thrilling individual run into the box before half-time.

    For a player who has been out for so long, Jesus looked impressively sharp and the encouraging thing for Arsenal is that he will only get better as his match fitness increases.

  6. LOSER: Mikel Arteta
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    LOSER: Mikel Arteta

    This was a nightmare evening for the Arsenal manager. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

    From the moment Tomiyasu picked up his injury, the hosts endured a miserable night.

    William Saliba soon followed Tomiyasu into the treatment room, before Sporting deservedly took the game to extra-time.

    With so much at stake for Arsenal in every Premier League game, those extra 30 minutes were the last thing Arteta would have wanted ahead of Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace.

    Several players were cramping up and limping ahead of the penalty shootout and Arsenal’s medical staff will now have their work cut out for them to get everyone ready for the weekend.

    Arteta will also have to try to somehow lift his players mentally because they can’t afford any sort of hangover as they go hunting the club’s first Premier League title in 19 years.