Arsenal Suffer Double Blow For Southampton But Emery Offers Positive Injury Update
Unai Emery is facing a selection crisis in defence as Arsenal will be without Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis against Southampton next weekend.
Unai Emery is facing a selection crisis in defence as Arsenal will be without Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis against Southampton next weekend but he had positive news on the German’s fitness.
Mustafi has started every Premier League game for Arsenal so far this season and was once again selected to line-up in a back three alongside Sokratis and Stephan Lichtsteiner against Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon.
The German international failed to see-out the game as he limped off midway through the second half after picking up a hamstring problem so it looked as though he was facing a spell on the sidelines.
However, speaking after Arsenal’s 1-0 victory at the Emirates on Saturday, Emery offered a positive update after playing down Mustafi’s injury by saying he thinks the centre-back will be ‘OK’.
No doubt he will be further assessed by the medical team at London Colney but it will be a big boost if Mustafi hasn’t suffered any lasting damage as we lost Rob Holding for the rest of the season last week while Dinos Mavropanos is still out so the last thing we need is another injury in defence.
However, Emery does have a short-term problem at the back as Mustafi and Sokratis picked up their fifth bookings of the season on Saturday and will therefore serve a one-match suspension against Southampton next weekend.
It means the Arsenal boss will be without the three centre-backs who’ve played for the majority of this season when we head to the South Coast next Sunday afternoon so Emery has a big decision to make at the back.
Nacho Monreal replaced Mustafi against Huddersfield to make his first appearance in two months so he could be an option while Laurent Koscielny was named on the bench for the first time in over seven months after recovering from an Achilles injury.
Emery told Arsenal.com:
on Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi now being suspended for Southampton…
I need for my mind to take two days off!
on whether Mustafi’s injury was a hamstring…
Yes but I think he will be OK.
on whether Laurent Koscielny will be ready for next week…
Now, I don’t know how we are going to play next week, but we have players. Stephan played at centre back today and had a good performance in Manchester with good commitment. Koscielny is also coming back, Nacho Monreal too. We’ll have players.
However, Monreal and Koscielny were pencilled in to start against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday night in order to build-up their match fitness so Emery will have to decide whether to risk them now they are needed against the Saints.
If either player got injured against Qarabag then we’d really be struggling for the league game with Southampton so it would be wise to rest Monreal and Kos in the Europa League. But the flip side of that is they’re lacking in match practice so could really do with the run-out on Thursday.
It’s a difficult situation for Emery to deal with but what’s certain is Arsenal will be fielding an experimental defence against Southampton as we look to extend our unbeaten run having made it 21 games in all competitions by beating Huddersfield.
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