Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has been ruled out for the rest of the 2018/19 season with a ruptured anterior cruciateknee ligament (Arsenal official).
The Spanish speedster was stretchered off against Chelsea at the weekend, and faces a battle to be fit for the start of next season.
Frustratingly for Bellerin, he had only just returned to the side following a four-week lay-off after a calf injury.
It’s a massive blow for the Gunners, with Bellerin having knuckled down this season and picked up his form significantly.
He is the third player to have picked up a season-ending injury after English pair Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck.
Emery must now consider who is best suited to deputise for Bellerin – but he must make sure that it is not Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Lichtsteiner an ageing liability
The most obvious replacement for Bellerin would be Swiss international Lichtsteiner, but this would be the wrong move from Emery.
Since arriving on a free transfer last summer as Emery’s first signing, Lichtsteiner has done little to impress.
The defender, a seven-time Scudetto winner with Juventus, is way past his best and has shown himself to be a clunky and lethargic full-back – the total opposite to Bellerin.
He offers little in the way of an attacking threat due to his lack of mobility. By contrast, Bellerin has produce five Premier League assists this season.
That same lack of mobility has seen Lichtsteiner struggle defensively against the pacier wingers in the Premier League.
Emery should therefore put his trust in Ainsley Maitland-Niles to replace Bellerin, and call on Lichtsteiner only when absolutely necessary.
Going with the 35-year-old could potentially leave Arsenal even more vulnerable than they already are and even cause them to miss out on the top four.