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Thierry Henry has admitted that he wasn’t surprised by Arsenal’s unexpected Champions League defeat against French side Lens on Tuesday evening. And the Gunners legend has named three players who must now step forward to show their true credentials after key forward Bukayo Saka was forced off injured.
The England international had set up Gabriel Jesus for the opening goal of the game but was forced off with a muscular problem in the 34th minute before Mikel Arteta’s side went on to lose the match 2-1.
It was the Gunners’ first defeat of the season but with Manchester City their next opponent in the Premier League on Sunday, Saka is now unlikely to be involved. The 22-year-old had been taken off with injury concerns during his last two starts but could now be facing a spell on the sidelines.
Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer Henry gave credit to Ligue 1 runners-up Lens, who created a hostile atmosphere for the North London club before turning his attention to discussing who can fill the void up front in Saka’s absence.
Speaking on CBS Sports, Henry said: “Lens is a tough place. They create a lot through their wing-backs, they don’t allow you to play inside, the atmosphere is rocking, it’s a tough place to go and win.
“That’s exactly what happened to Arsenal tonight and away from home in Europe nothing is easy. I’m not suprised with the result.”
When fellow studio pundit Jamie Carragher questioned Henry on just how concerned he was about losing Saka ahead of the Manchester City match, the former French World Cup winner imediately threw down the guantlet to the 22-year-old’s teammates.
Henry said: “Now it looks like they have lost Bukayo Saka. People were talking about Rodri (Man City) not playing at the weekend, suddenly you don’t have, for me, the main man at Arsenal right now, playing against Man City at the weekend. We’re not going too far, it looks like it.
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“But again, it’s going to be the job of Eddie Nketiah, the job of a Trossard (Leandro), the job of a Kai Havertz who came to make sure that we are not going to think about Bukayo if he’s not playing at the weekend.
“It’s not a criticism but the only thing you can say about Bukayo is he’s been playing everything. At one point you’re going to hit the wall and it’s going to be a bit too much. It was maybe physically a bit too much tonight.
“I don’t know exactly what happened because we don’t have the diagnostics of what’s happening with him, whether it’s a muscle injury or a knock or whatever. But obviously, he’s going to be missed and we need to find a way to beat City because we haven’t done that for a very long time in the league.”
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