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Bernd Leno and the rest of us will have to wait to find out the extent of his injury after he was shoved for no reason by a Brighton player in an action that could have lasting implications for more than just the keeper.
As I discussed at the time of the incident, Neal Maupay’s actions were deliberate and they should be taken much more seriously than they have been. Even after the game Mikel Arteta said that he didn’t think Maupay meant to injure Leno.
So what, exactly, did he mean to do?
What was the point of his shove?
To just let him know he was there? Leno has eyes, he could see him.
The fact is, it was an unnecessary action that in no way was an attempt to get the ball.
Shoving or barging someone like that when they are in the air is taken so seriously in rugby, it’s not allowed. Rugby states: “Law 10.4 (i) Tackling the jumper in the air. A player must not tackle nor tap, push or pull the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball in a line-out or in open play.”
Rugby knows the dangers involved. As does Mathieu Debuchy who had his Arsenal career ruined by a needless shove into the advertising hoardings.
I’m fairly sure they changed the laws around challenging without a genuine attempt to win the ball in football, but that only seems to apply to Granit Xhaka on the half-way line.
Anyway, Leno’s injury looks like, at best, it will rule him out for the rest of the season and that is a massive blow to Arsenal. For as much as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals have contributed to keeping us in and around midtable, without Leno in the form he has been in, we would be nowhere near that high.
He is number two in the list of goalkeepers with the most saves this season in the Premier League and second for punched clearances, but we all know what we’ve seen this season. People haven’t been calling for a statue for him just for a laugh (not that they are serious about him getting a statue).
We now have to turn to a keeper who, at 27, should be hitting the best years of his life but has made just 26 first team appearances for Arsenal in 10 years.
In fact, it has looked very much like the club were trying to replace him as number two given the number of keepers we’ve already been linked with.
Speaking after the game, Arteta told the media, “I believe that no player has the intention to hurt anybody and I believe in this case it’s exactly the same, it was unfortunate. Bernd’s injury doesn’t look good and we will have to assess him probably tomorrow, but it can happen on a football pitch. It’s a knee injury, I think he had a hyperextension of the knee and we have to assess the damage.
“We don’t know [the full extent]. He was in a lot of pain but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see how bad the damage is.”
Not to have a dig at Arteta, but I’m fairly sick of hearing how players don’t mean to injure other players. They quite clearly do, we see it all the time, especially on Arsenal players.
Arteta was right that we shouldn’t use the incident as an excuse, but you can’t get around the fact that Martin Atkinson allowed Brighton players to foul regularly with relative impunity.
Those calling for Arsenal to just ‘toughen up’ and ‘kick back’ have clearly not been paying attention since our 50th game at Old Trafford when Mike Riley set the precedent for how Arsenal can be treated.
That’s the same Mike Riley who is now head of PGMOL, the refereeing governing body.
The reward for allowing tackles during that game, some of which bordered on assault, to go unpunished has allowed a narrative to be established that if you kick Arsenal, you beat Arsenal.
That philosophy has been enacted against many players. You don’t need me to name them. You remember Abou Diaby’s leg in pieces, Eduardo’s foot hanging on only by his sock and Aaron Ramsey having his leg snapped, halfway up his shin when he was just a teenager, like Diaby was at the time, too.
Maupay’s shove, more than his winning goal, will damage Arsenal over the rest of the season. But, as usual, it is the player who is injured who has to sit on the sidelines while Maupay gets to come out after the game spouting nonsense about how Arsenal ‘got what they deserved.’