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Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker leaves Wembley in protective boot as Gabriel’s chance arrives

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker gave Arsene Wenger a fresh injury worry after leaving Wembley in a protective boot, with the German sustaining an ankle problem against Reading in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final win.

Mertesacker limped off early on in the second half and was replaced by January signing Gabriel, with Wenger later revealing that the extent of the injury hasn’t yet been determined, but the Arsenal boss was fearing the worst.

The German defender wasn’t convincing during his time on the pitch, with Jamie Mackie giving him the runaround, but the stability of Wenger’s defence will inevitably be affected by his loss.

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“He has an ankle problem,” Wenger told reporters post-match (via Arsenal.com).

“He is limping badly so that doesn’t look too good.”

Should Arsenal’s worst fears become realised, one would suspect that Mertesacker’s season would be over which immediately puts the focus on Wenger’s £11.2m January signing (via BBC Sport) – Gabriel.

The Brazilian looked edgy during his time on the pitch, but that could be put down to his lack of game time in recent weeks. His last start came against Newcastle United almost four weeks ago and is therefore short of match fitness.

However, Gabriel must get used to the demands very quickly as Arsenal aim to solidify second place in the Premier League and win their 12th FA Cup trophy.

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