Rio Ferdinand defends Neal Maupay as injured Bernd Leno blasts Brighton striker

Arsenal's goalkeeper Bernd Leno gestures at Brighton's Neal Maupay
Bernd Leno was furious with Neal Maupay after he was stretchered off with an injury (AP)

Rio Ferdinand has defended Neal Maupay after the Brighton striker’s challenge led to a nasty injury for Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

The German goalkeeper was forced to leave the field on a stretcher in the first half of Arsenal’s clash with Brighton on Saturday after he landed awkwardly on his right knee.

Moments before he hit the ground, Maupay bumped into Leno, which put the Arsenal goalkeeper off balance as he caught the ball in mid-air.

As he was carried off the field on the stretcher, a visibly angry Leno confronted Maupay and appeared to be unhappy with the Brighton striker’s challenge for the ball.

But despite Leno’s fury, Ferdinand has defended Maupay over his challenge.

‘You can’t blame Maupay for that, he would have felt worse in training or even in the warm-up,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport.

Arsenal's goalkeeper Bernd Leno, lands on the ground injuring his leg
Bernd Leno landed awkwardly on his right knee(AP)
Arsenal's goalkeeper Bernd Leno was screaming in pain after landing awkwardly
Bernd Leno was screaming in pain after landing awkwardly (AFP via Getty Images)

‘It’s a contact sport. Its a foul but it’s not malicious and it’s not with excessive force, come on.

‘It’s a very unfortunate very nasty injury and obviously Leno will be distraught he’s been ever-present for Arsenal.

‘It’s difficult… I think Maupay will be sitting there and thinking, ‘wow, maybe I didn’t need to go in for that’.

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno argues with Brighton and Hove Albion's Neal Maupay
Bernd Leno confronted Neal Maupay as he is stretchered off the pitch (PA)

‘But this is a contact sport. You need to try and jostle get an advantage here of there try and ease him out the box.

‘Yes he got injured but he didn’t go in there with the intentions I don’t believe, if I’m a player and I’m playing for Brighton I want my striker doing that.’

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