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Neal Maupay Successfully Embedded Himself Under The Skin Of Arsenal, And He Brought Salt

Arsenal is in a world of shit right now. 

The Gunners looked to be turning things around with three straight Premier League wins before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the league to shut down. Upon return, Arsenal has looked worse than ever in the Mikel Arteta era. Adding to the shitstorm, Arteta is losing players to injury faster than my partner left the room after I started playing The Last of Us Part II.

A meek defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday was bad enough, aided by two early injuries and a boneheaded red card. On Saturday, things hit a new low, with Neal Maupay doing his best to apply his own brand of shithousery to the shitstorm that is Arsenal FC.

Maupay nearly single-handedly sent Arsenal’s season into the crapper by injuring Arsenal’s best player and then scoring a late, late winner as Brighton & Hove Albion stunned the Gunners 2-1 on Saturday at the Amex Stadium.

Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to the defending champions on Wednesday would’ve been much worse if not for the heroics of Bernd Leno, who make no mistake was the best player on the pitch for either side at Etihad Stadium. But the Gunners couldn’t rely on their German goalkeeper to bail them out on Saturday, because he went down injured.

In the first half, Leno came out to grab a routine ball in the box. However, Maupay ran into Leno, launching himself into the keeper after he had grabbed the ball, causing the Arsenal star to land awkwardly.

Bernd Leno Injury

While the severity of the injury isn’t yet known, it certainly didn’t look good, especially after a lengthy delay ensued to stretcher Leno off. Maupay wasn’t shown a card. VAR didn’t intervene to suggest any further punishment, despite Leno clearly having control of the ball before Maupay barged into Leno.

As Leno was being carried off, he pointed at Maupay, yelling at the man who inflicted the injury. There was no audio, but we imagine this Twitter video is pretty close to spot on.

Despite the blow, the Gunners briefly regrouped, taking the lead on a lovely curler from Nicolas Pépé in the 68th minute.

But this is Arsenal in 2020, so things only went downhill from there.

Lewis Dunk scored a scrappy equalizer off a corner seven minutes later. Arsenal had a substitution snafu when Martin Atkinson prevented Kieran Tierney from coming on, making him wait nine minutes due to new substitution rules. 

And then in the fifth minute of four promised minutes of stoppage time, Maupay rubbed salt in the wounds he carved into Arsenal with a late winner.

Arsenal tried to mount a response in the closing minutes but wasn’t allowed to take a corner kick to find a late equalizer. The players then took out their frustrations on Maupay.

Maupay showed little remorse after the match.

“I never meant to hurt Leno so I’m really sorry for him and wish him a speedy recovery, but some of the Arsenal players need to learn humility,” Maupay said. “They got what they deserved.”

It’s hard to believe the Frenchman’s word when there’s no reason to ram into an opposing keeper who already has the ball for anything other than to injure him. Arsenal has a long history of players being intentionally injured by players on lower-quality clubs. Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor destroyed Eduardo’s ankle in 2008 and Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross eviscerated Aaron Ramsey’s leg in 2010. While this incident wasn’t as violent, the intent was clear and Arsenal players and fans won’t take kindly to the chicanery regardless of what Maupay says after the match.

Maupay might want to watch his back the next time he’s in North London.

Of course, this wasn’t all Maupay’s fault.

Arsenal was miserable for much of the match and hasn’t shown any real interest in fighting for a place in Europe next season. The Gunners are now in ninth place with 40 points, six behind fifth-place Manchester United. Injuries are piling up and star players haven’t been locked down with contracts extensions.

Try as they might, Arsenal fans can’t blame all their misery on Maupay.

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