Wednesday 23 October 2019

Injured Welbeck still ‘a big part of our team’, says Arsenal keeper Leno

The forward spoke with the squad ahead of Sunday’s draw with Wolves at the Emirates Stadium.

Bernd Leno enjoyed a fine afternoon in goal as Arsenal drew with Wolves (Mike Egerton/PA).
Bernd Leno enjoyed a fine afternoon in goal as Arsenal drew with Wolves (Mike Egerton/PA).

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Danny Welbeck may be missing with a broken ankle, but he still played his part in Arsenal’s pre-match preparations as goalkeeper Bernd Leno revealed he shared a FaceTime call with the players ahead of Sunday’s draw with Wolves.

The England forward underwent surgery on Friday after suffering what the club described as a “significant” injury during Thursday’s goalless Europa League draw against Sporting Lisbon.

It remains to be seen how long Welbeck will be on the sidelines, but head coach Unai Emery arranged for him to speak to his team-mates in the dressing room as they prepared for the Premier League clash with Wolves.

Welbeck broke his ankle after an awkward fall against Sporting on Thursday night. (Nick Potts/PA)

He could not inspire the Gunners to a win as they toiled to a 1-1 draw, substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan levelling four minutes from full-time after Ivan Cavaleiro’s goal looked set to be enough for the visitors.

“We talked to him because of the coach before the game in the meeting, we had a FaceTime session with him,” Leno said after the game.

“It was very good, we wanted to win for him. We all are sorry for him for his injury, and hope he will have a good recovery and to see him on the pitch because he’s an important player for the team and also in the dressing room.

“He looked very happy and I think he was happy to talk to us because he is still a big part of our team and we will support him to have a good time when he is injured.

“I think that is a big quality of the manager because he always wants to have a team, not just one player, one player, one player (individuals) and I think this meeting was very motivating for us and for every player to play for Danny because everybody likes him.”

Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to 16 games with a draw which could easily have been a first defeat since August.

Ivan Cavaleiro put Wolves ahead as they ran Arsenal close on Sunday afternoon. (Mike Egerton/PA)

Wolves were the better side for much of the contest and only a string of smart saves from Leno kept the hosts in the game.

Substitute Morgan Gibbs-White hit the crossbar in injury time as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side almost sealed the win.

In taking a share of the spoils Arsenal have now secured nine points from losing positions this season – more than any other side in the top-flight -and Leno believes that shows the players have the right attitude.

“I think the games against Liverpool and Leicester were the same. We played after 1-0 for the other team, we played very good,” he added.

“I think this shows a good character of the team that we never give up. After the 1-0 it was dangerous to score as well, but we never gave up and at the end I think had chances to score the second goal.

“I think at the end the balance was lost again, maybe we wanted too much to win this game. I think the character of this team is very good.”

Wolves are now winless in four, having lost three in a row ahead of their trip to north London, but captain Conor Coady felt they did enough to secure victory at the Emirates Stadium.

“(We gave) Absolutely everything, we have left everything out there, it is as simple as that,” he told Wolves TV.

“To say we are disappointed is an understatement really, we came here with an objective to win and to stop the rot – we had been beaten three times and didn’t want to carry that on – but we had to win the game.

“Towards the end of the game we had to win it, we limited them to really nothing. They hit the post and scored with a cross, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

PA Media

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