Unai Emery has confirmed that Laurent Koscielny will start tomorrow night’s Europa League group game against Qarabag as the skipper steps up his recovery from the Achilles injury he suffered in May.
The 33 year old was in the squad for last weekend’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield, but with a central defensive crisis ahead of this weekend’s trip to Southampton, the Arsenal boss clearly wants one of his most experienced players to get some minutes under his best.
He’s made two reserve appearances, but is now set for his first senior start since that night in the Wanda Metropoltina when a 1-0 defeat was enough to send eventual winners Atletico Madrid through to the final.
Speaking at his press conference this afternoon, Emery said he’d be playing a young side because of the fact we’ve already qualified.
“We are going to use tomorrow with some different players,” he said, “with some coming from the U23s.
“We also start to play with Laurent Koscielny.”
How he comes through the game will dictate his involvement on Sunday at St Mary’s, and you’d imagine that he’ll get about an hour, before a younger defender – or perhaps even Nacho Monreal – gets a run-out.
The Spaniard also revealed that Mesut Ozil, who hasn’t played since the 1-1 draw with Wolves on November 11t, would also be in the squad although he has yet to make a decision as to whether or not he’ll be in the starting line-up.
“Tomorrow he is in the group,” said Emery, “we will decide if he plays at the beginning or during the match.”