Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confessed he fears centre-back David Luiz may have played his last match this season after he limped off with a hamstring injury in Sunday's 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
Having missed the last four games with a knee injury, Luiz was brought back into the starting lineup for Sunday's game, but he managed just 53 minutes before collapsing to the turf in pain, having clearly injured his hamstring.
"We don't know," said Arteta (via the club's official website) when asked whether Luiz's season was done. "He felt something in his hamstring so it's not good news. He's put in such a shift to be back with the team for the last few weeks after the knee surgery. It's a real shame."
It's entirely possible that Luiz may have played his last match in an Arsenal shirt entirely. His contract expires this summer and he is not expected to ink fresh terms, so any season-ending injury would also bring his time with the Gunners to an abrupt end.
Fortunately for Arteta, it wasn't all doom and gloom as striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took a big step forward in his comeback from malaria.
Aubameyang had missed the last three league games and was handed just five minutes in Thursday's 2-1 loss to Villarreal, but he managed 78 minutes against Newcastle and bagged both a goal and an assist.
"We thought that he wasn't going to manage that," Arteta confessed. "On Thursday, and the day before, he was struggling and he could only manage to play ten or 15 minutes but the day afterwards he was starting to feel better.
"It's good to see that he was fine today, he performed well and scored a goal too. It's a real positive."
"[It was the perfect preparation for Thursday] because we had a strong and a very convincing performance. We scored two goals, we kept a clean sheet, won the points, and had some really strong individual performances too. The only downside is the one with David because we know how important he is to us. I think we lost him today."