Arsenal Team News & Injury Update: Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs & More…
Arsenal take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon looking to close the gap on the top-four. Here is a team news update for the big game.
Arsenal take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon looking to close the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham.
Ahead of the game, boss Arsene Wenger has been speaking at his weekly press conference and gave the clubs official website a team news and injury update including the latest on Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Gervinho.
The bad news is that it looks like we could be facing something of an injury crisis at the back with the news that captain Vermaelen is definitely out the game with an ankle problem. He joins Kieran Gibbs on the sidelines with the left back out for 4 to 6 weeks.
The pair may be joined by Koscielny who faces a late fitness test after picking up a calf problem while away on international duty with France in midweek. If the Frenchman misses out, Iggy Miquel is on standby while right back Bacary Sagna may move into the middle with Carl Jenkinson coming in at full back.
Midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin are both available for the trip but Gervinho is to be given some time off following his exploits with the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations.
Here is what the boss told Arsenal.com:
on Kieran Gibbs…
Kieran is a few more weeks away. Still four to six weeks really.
on Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen…
Koscielny had a scan that was quite reassuring so he will have a test today [Friday]. It is a calf problem. Vermaelen is out with his ankle injury.
on defensive options…
The options are restricted, I will have to be creative. We have Iggy Miquel, we have Sagna who can play there and Jenkinson on the right, so we will see. But we have very good hope that Koscielny will be available.
on Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey…
Francis still has a little pain at the back of his hamstring. I don’t think he will be with us on Saturday but I’ll have to check that today [Friday]. Aaron Ramsey is OK.
Gervinho has arrived back [from the Africa Cup of Nations] on Friday but he is not in the squad for Sunderland. We have given him five days off.
The current situation at the back must surely bring into question Arsene’s decision not to sign a centre back in January. Most fans were crying out for another central defender to be signed after Johan Djourou was allowed to leave on loan, but nobody arrived and on we went with just three ‘dependable’ CB’s. Now, just a week after the close of the window we may find ourselves facing a tough away trip with just one of those three available with no proper back-up to step in.
But lets hope Koscielny is passed fit as this is an important game if we’re to maintain our hopes of catching Tottenham, who could have opened up a seven point lead if they beat Newcastle in Saturday’s early kick off.
So now we’ve seen the team news, what would be your starting line-up for the game? Get involved in the comments section.