Arsenal head into what could probably be their most important match of the season this Thursday as they host Napoli in the Europa League quarter finals. However, they could be left handicapped as Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny are almost confirmed to miss the tie due to their recent knocks.
The pair have proven to be a vital figure in the starting XI, with the Swiss being instrumental in dictating the tempo in midfield and the skipper proving to be the perfect backup since Rob Holding’s unfortunate injury.
When quizzed about the situation after their defeat at Everton, Unai Emery said:
“I don’t know,”
“Maybe Laurent could’ve come back to play today but yesterday we knew it wasn’t possible. I want to be positive for Thursday but it depends how he’s progressing.
“Xhaka is the same. They are doubts for Thursday. We have players and we know we can produce the performance with all the players.
“When you lose a match, maybe you can look at the players who didn’t play, but it’s rarely the consequence. We’ve won matches with other players, other systems, and we need to be efficient in each moment.
“We need to be consistent like we are a lot of the time, but sometimes we can lose.”
The Gunners lost at Goodison Park this weekend and Xhaka’s absence was fairly apparent as Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi failed to help the attack or defense consistently. On the other hand, Shkodran Mustafi looks less likely to improve everyday.
Although, Lucas Torreira and Aaron Ramsey could step up in midfield, the prospect of not having Koscielny against Napoli is certainly a big concern for the Arsenal faithful. Moreover, with Konstatinos Mavropanos not being a part of the Europa League squad, looking for other options is not an option either.
However, Torreira’s return is certainly a breather as he was evidently missed since his suspension at Wembley. But despite Emery playing Xhaka’s absence off mildly, there’s no doubt he will be missed, especially against the likes of Napoli.
Nevertheless, the Gooners can hope for an early return for at least one of them as there is still a slim glimmer of hope. Neither are completely ruled out yet. Thus, there’s no harm in hoping for the better.