Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted that left-back Kieran Tierney’s absence was felt by his side in their goalless draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Thursday night but says his team must adapt and deal with the inevitable injuries they will suffer in such a hectic Premier League season. The Scottish left-back was absent with muscle tightness and in his place Ainsley Maitland-Niles struggled to make any real impact on the match.
Arsenal missed the in-form Tierney’s attacking enterprise down the left-hand side as they languished to a dull draw on home soil.
The former Celtic captain had supplied a goal and an assist in Arsenal’s previous Premier League outing, a 4-0 thrashing of West Brom, and also laid on an assist in the FA Cup victory over Newcastle last weekend.
After the draw against Palace, Arteta told Sky Sports: “Tierney is a real threat and the way we are playing and the way we attack on the left side, he’s really important but we didn’t have him, he is injured and we have to find a solution.
“I don’t know [when he will be back], it depends how he evolves. He’s going to have an MRI scan tomorrow and we’ll see how he is.
“A lot of Premier League teams are in the same position. I think we lost four players in the last week with injuries.
“This is going to happen, some others that haven’t played much have to step in. It is what it is. The schedule is crazy, it’s still going to be crazy, they’re not going to change it so we have to adapt.”
The Gunners saw their winning streak halted by Palace and the hosts managed just four shots on target all match despite having nearly 70 per cent possession.
They lacked an attacking spark throughout and failed to create many clear opportunities with their best chance coming from Alexandre Lacazette, who could only the find the side-netting after spinning to shoot.
Bernd Leno had to deny Christian Benteke before half-time while James Tomkins headed against the crossbar as Palace threatened.
But neither side could manage a breakthrough on a thoroughly forgettable evening which leaves Arsenal languishing in 11th, eight points off fourth-placed Leicester and fifth-placed Everton – both on 32 points – having played one match more.
The only real positives of note for Arsenal was summer signing Thomas Partey’s return from injury after coming off the bench in the second half and this being their first home clean sheet in 12 games.
Arteta added: “Some freshness and some quality in the final third [was missing]. We generated a lot of entries in the final third but without real big, big chances.
“In a lot of situations we lacked the last pass or the last timing or the last shot, and probably we had to generate more to win the game.”
“I wanted to see a win today and to score a few goals but it didn’t happen. There were moments as well where fatigue played a role when we started to give very difficult balls away and allowed the transitions to Palace which is probably what they do best.
“I cannot fault the spirit, the fight they put in, they tried until he last minute with the chance they had on the wide free-kick, but it wasn’t enough today.
“Roy Hodgson has done it all through his career, very successfully. That’s why they beat a lot of big teams in recent years, the way they’ve done it.
“We knew the plan and knew what we had to do, but the execution and the quality today wasn’t enough to win the game.”
Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin added: “They did defend really well with loads of players and we tried to break down the low block.
“I feel that little spark, a little bit of creativity or a shot or a chance you can get sometimes was missing today. You can’t fault the team for the effort, we tried really hard, defensively, offensively.
“Today we didn’t have that little bit of luck that we needed, and obviously credit to them, they did really well as well.
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“They knew what they were coming here for, they’re a team that on the counter-attack can be really, really dangerous. They played their game and they’ve come away with a point.
“I think when you play against teams that defend with so many players, sometimes the spaces are really small.
“It’s hard to play balls in behind because there’s not much space and as I say, sometimes it just takes one moment in the game to just open the score then once it gets 1-0 the spaces come up because the other team is trying to score a goal.
“We didn’t score the chances we had in the first half so then we knew we had to suffer to break them down and it wasn’t our day to do that today.”
The Spanish defender also admitted his fellow full-back Tierney was missed on the opposite flank.
“Yeah I think so,” Bellerin said when asked if Tierney’s absence was felt. “We do miss every single player when they’re not on the pitch.
“We also have great players coming back and I think Ainsley did a great job again, filling in, such a versatile player.
“But it’s also true that Kieran was enjoying a great run of form and we did miss him, probably, on the left side.
“But we have many talented players in many areas that can come in and we’re not a team that boil down to just one player.
“We need to find ways to be creative, to break down other teams, whatever challenge they give us, and we need to keep improving on that.”
Arsenal will hope for positive news regarding Tierney’s muscle problem before they return to action on Monday at home to struggling Newcastle, who are eight games without a win across all competitions.