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Hector Bellerin says players’ bodies can ‘only cope with so much’ in busy season

Hector Bellerin helped Arsenal keep a fourth straight clean sheet following their 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.
(Image credit: Julian Finney)

Hector Bellerin insists players’ bodies “can only cope with so much” after Arsenal lost Pablo Mari and Kieran Tierney to injury hours before their goalless draw with Crystal Palace on Thursday.

The pair were ruled out of the drab 0-0 stalemate with muscular complaints as Gunners boss Mikel Arteta admitted Tierney will now require an MRI scan.

Both Tierney and Mari had previously played the last four games for Arsenal, including all 120 minutes of their FA Cup third round win over Newcastle last weekend.

Arteta conceded the issue will happen “more and more” as the truncated season sees fixtures pile up and Bellerin warned players can only take so much strain.

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Asked about Arsenal keeping a fourth successive clean sheet despite being forced into two changes to their back four, the Spaniard replied: “We were a bit unlucky in the last few weeks with injuries.

“Then playing 120 minutes against Newcastle with the amount of games we had over Christmas was always going to be difficult for us.

“Obviously we are used to it but our bodies can only cope with so much and all the players that have been called up to play have done a great, great job.

“That is what we want, we want to be a team that is hard to beat – if we cannot score goals we want to make sure we aren’t conceding either so at least we can get that point.

“Obviously we need to be happy in the sense that we kept another clean sheet but now it is for us to push forward and keep scoring goals and there will be nothing to worry about.”

While Arsenal have addressed a slide in results of late, the draw with Palace means they have won just one of their last seven home games in the Premier League.

A good win over the Eagles could have moved Arsenal into the top-half of the table but Bellerin insists there is no need for concern over their Emirates Stadium form.

“In football it is never black and white,” he added.

“It is always a combination of things and I don’t think it (form at home) is something we need to be worried about.

“Lately, we have enjoyed playing forward a lot, connecting going forward, scoring great goals and have had a lot of energy from young players coming into the team.

Arsenal and their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were unable to find a way to score against Palace.

Arsenal and their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were unable to find a way to score against Palace. (Neil Hall/PA)

“I don’t think anything is lacking, I think we have to give credit to the teams we have played against, defending with a low-block makes it tactically difficult to break down.

Palace have a good recent record against their north London rivals and extended their unbeaten run in the fixture to five games.

Roy Hodgson’s visitors came closest to taking all three points as James Tomkins saw a first-half header rattle the crossbar.

While winger Andros Townsend believes Palace could have easily left with a win, he feels the performance also set the blueprint for Sunday’s trip to Manchester City.

Andros Townsend (right) feels Palace could have taken all three points at the Emirates Stadium.

Andros Townsend (right) feels Palace could have taken all three points at the Emirates Stadium. (Alastair Grant/PA)

“When you come to a place like Arsenal you have to be happy with a point,” he told cpfc.co.uk.

“But especially in the second-half we got ourselves into situations where it probably could have been a bit more.

“You’re always disappointed in the dressing room when you don’t come away with three points.

“We know it’s going to be tough especially with City getting into their rhythm and starting to play how everyone knows they can play but if we play like we did on Thursday I’m sure we can go there and pick up more points.”