Arsenal haven't lost in three matches heading into this week's clash against Sunderland, but they may have been dealt a crushing blow on Saturday. According to the Premier League's official Twitter feed, star midfielder Jack Wilshere left the fixture after limping off the field:
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere limps off after just five minutes of the second half after picking up a knock. Abou Diaby replaces him.— Premier League (@premierleague) February 9, 2013
UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 9, at 2:52 p.m. ET by Mike Hoag
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed Wilshere suffered a thigh injury that was limiting his walking ability following the match. Fear not, though, because the initial diagnosis seems positive.
PhysioRoom.com, a UK sports injury website, tweeted an update and expected return for Wilshere on Feb. 9:
---End of update---
Though most Arsenal fans will be waiting with baited breath for a full report, fan Twitter feed Verminated is reporting that Wilshere was not receiving medical attention and this could be a precaution:
Jack Wilshere being withdrawn could just be a precaution. Not getting treatment, he's on the bench.— Verminated (@Vermaelen05) February 9, 2013
If Arsenal have pulled Wilshere simply to avoid further injury, that certainly makes sense. They had dominated Saturday's match against Sunderland up until Wilshere's injury and his health is far too important to risk a serious ailment.
Though Arsenal is filled with top-notch talent at just about every position on the field, Wilshere may be their most important player. A star central midfielder for the club since 2008, nearly every offensive attack for Arsenal runs through the gifted feet of Wilshere. He has brilliant vision and technique for someone of his young age, feeding his teammates smart passes while almost never making a poor decision.
However, the 21-year-old has a history of debilitating leg problems. Wilshere missed the entire 2011-12 Premier League season after injuring his ankle in a friendly against the New York Red Bulls, and he was even forced to miss England's run in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
His absence was seen as a large reason Arsene Wenger's club finished third in the table last season, far behind Manchester United and Manchester City. With Arsenal sitting at a disappointing sixth place in 2012-13 heading into this week's action, Wenger cannot afford to be without Wilshere for long.
Be sure to check back in as we give you the latest updates on Wilshere's leg injury and possible return date.