Arsenal manager Unai Emery is having a tough task at his hands as he will be without four centre-backs for their trip to Southampton. Centre-backs Rob Holding, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi are all unavailable for their upcoming Premier League game on Sunday.
Holding is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, while Sokratis and Mustafi will be both be suspended after the pair picked up their fifth booking of the season each in Saturday’s win over Huddersfield. And young Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos has not made an appearance all season due to a groin injury.
Arsenal started with a back three against Huddersfield, using right-back Stephan Lichsteiner as the third centre-back. Another option in the similar role is Nacho Monreal but he has only made his first appearance since October as he came off the bench against the Terriers.
Captain Laurent Koscielny could also play after he made the bench at the weekend. However, the Frenchman has not played for the first team since May and next weekend’s match could come too soon for him to start.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) December 10, 2018
However, Arsenal manager Unai Emery is confident that he has enough options in his defensive department, with club captain Laurent Koscielny back on the bench against Huddersfield for the first time this season.
“Now, I don’t know how we are going to play next week, but we have players.”
“Lichtsteiner was playing centre-back, and in Manchester also. Koscielny is coming also. Nacho Monreal. I do have players.”
– Emery on Arsenal injury crisis
It was good to see the absentees Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny make their comebacks against Huddersfield. Captain Laurent Koscielny suffered his achilles injury in last May semi-final against Europa League winners Atletico Madrid and Nacho Monreal suffered a hamstring injury in October.
With the ongoing injury and suspension crisis, its the perfect time for the experienced duo to make their perfect start to their season and strengthen their place in the starting line-up.
The Gunners have already shipped 20 goals in just 16 games so far this season and their experience is much more needed now more than ever if Arsenal are to strengthen their top four hopes this season. Despite these injury crisis, they need to remain optimistic about the chance of finishing in top four this season.
5th placed Arsenal are on a 21 game unbeaten run in all competitions, while Southampton sits 19th in the Premier League. However, the Saints ensures that it won’t be plain sailing for the Gunners next weekend.