Arsenal are facing the prospect of being without two key players for Sunday’s League Cup final, after both Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas were taken off against Stoke City after suffering injury setbacks.
Walcott exited the field on a stretcher with 20 minutes remaining after falling awkwardly under a challenge from Dean Whitehead, with Arsene Wenger confirming that the winger will miss Sunday's showpiece against Birmingham City with an ankle strain.
"Theo Walcott has an ankle sprain and he is out [of the League Cup final]. For how long, I don't know, but he is definitely out of Sunday," Wenger told reporters after the match.
The injury suffered by the England winger was the second blow of the night for the Gunners after influential captain Fabregas left the field with a hamstring injury, and was replaced by Andrey Arshavin after just 15 minutes.
The Spanish midfielder seemed to labour through the opening stages of the game and may have been taken off as a precaution with the cup final in mind, but Arsenal fans face an anxious wait for news on the 23-year-old’s condition as Arsene Wenger confirmed his injury will be assessed by the club on Thursday.
"Fabregas has a hamstring problem," Wenger added. "We will assess that tomorrow. It is impossible to see how serious it is tonight. We will know tomorrow."
With Wenger looking to end the club’s six-year trophy drought in Sunday’s final, the potential loss of the key midfield duo will come as a huge blow, especially if both injuries turn out to be serious, and the Arsenal boss conceded that injuries are a risk that come with the sport, while admitting that the availbility of both Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny will become clearer by the end of the week.
"It is a concern that he [Fabregas] is injured but it can happen unfortunately, " Wenger added.
"He is very upset, as I am as well, it is not his fault, and it is not my fault, it is just part of sport. It is strange when it happens so early in the game but we have to face it."
"With regards to Laurent Koscielny and Robin Van Persie we will know more on Friday."
The potential absence of their skipper will be felt none more so than by the player himself, who before the game, described the honour that lifting a trophy would present.
"I have a lot of friends and family coming over – I know that I can become the first Spaniard to lift a major English trophy as captain, and that would be something special," Fabegas explained in the Arsenal programme before the match.
"Hopefully we'll all have a great day and be able to celebrate together by the end of it."