Arsenal star Danny Welbeck has been hospitalised after suffering a horrific ankle injury in a Europa League clash.
In a rare start for the English striker, disaster struck in the 24th minute of play after he attempted to score from a cross.
Welbeck’s ankle buckled underneath him as he writhed around the pitch in pain, with his teammates looking on in disbelief and shock.
Medics immediately stormed the pitch with a stretcher in tow, as Welbeck was oxygenated whilst his leg was put in a splint before making his way from the pitch.
Gunners great Martin Keown commented on the incident that sent shockwaves through Welbeck’s Arsenal teammates – particularly young guns Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith-Rowe.
“When you see that on the pitch it is always a bit shocking. It reflects on the players’ faces,” Keown said.
“He is one of the nicest men I’ve met in football. He is the heart and soul of the football club and he’s been desperately unlucky with injuries.”
Arsenal coach Unai Emery echoed Keown’s comments, saying the disturbing injury affected the performance of his players.
Guendouzi's reaction to Danny Welbeck's💔🙌🏻
— Arsène faris (@gnris12) November 8, 2018
“This is the worst news tonight. It’s clear he was playing well and had chances,” Emery said in the post-match press conference.
“His injury also affected the mentality of the players as they could see it was a big injury.”
Arsenal booked a place in the Europa League knockout stage and extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches despite a 0-0 draw with Sporting Lisbon, but Welbeck’s injury overshadowed the feat.
Former Manchester United teammate Nani was lauded for his classy gesture to comfort Welbeck, as he made his way from the field on a stretcher.
And social media quickly erupted with messages of support for the injury-prone 27-year-old:
Can’t lie that injury welbeck got was nasty I hope he recovers quickly
— El Rèefo (@_El_Reefo_) November 8, 2018
Arsenal confirm that Welbeck has gone to hospital following injury suffered against Sporting. #ARSSCP
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) November 8, 2018
Since Welbeck signed for us he’s ruptured both ACL’s and now broke his ankle, I feel so sorry for him!
— Aston Carter (@ast_carter) November 8, 2018
Gutted for Nketiah, but even more for Welbeck. On the day he got a NT call up, he gets injured. Get well soon @DannyWelbeck 🙏🏾
— Stephen (@TILIKI_OS) November 8, 2018
— Roger Klotz (@DSinger89) November 8, 2018
Welbeck injury looked absolutely horrendous and I hope he has a speedy recovery.
— Kobershan Naidoo (@Kobershan007) November 8, 2018
Sorry that Danny Welbeck injury is horrific. Wish him all the best, proper top manc lad. That picture with Nani aswell ❤️
— Harry (@NaitoKarisuma) November 8, 2018
Unai Emery’s Gunners were the better side for long periods at the Emirates against a team who have already had three different managers this term, but had to settle for a point.
But Arsenal did secure a last-32 spot regardless, as Vorskla Poltava lost 1-0 at home to Azeri outfit Qarabag in the other Group E game.
A drab first half was delayed for several minutes when Danny Welbeck, given a rare start just hours after being named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, had to be stretchered off with what looked a nasty injury after seeing a header saved by Renan Ribeiro.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Welbeck’s replacement, had the first real opening of the game but volleyed wide from just a few yards out early in the second half.
Arsenal continued to press for a winner but failed to find a way through the Sporting defence as Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw an effort saved at point-blank range by Ribeiro and Aubameyang was denied by a flying block.
Sporting were reduced to 10 men late on when former Barcelona centre-back Jeremy Mathieu brought down Aubameyang, but the Gabon forward blasted the resulting free-kick over the bar.