Unai Emery will be able to select Stephan Lichststeiner and Sokratis for tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final with Sp*rs, but it looks as though Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi will still be sidelined.
Arsenal’s latest medical bulletin confirms that Lichtsteiner, who went off in Sunday’s game with Southampton, has returned to training. Sokratis is available after serving his one-game suspension.
Shkodran Mustafi also served a ban at the weekend, but the hamstring problem picked up in the 4-2 win against Sp*rs remains a cause for concern. The German is being ‘assessed’ but you’d be surprised if we risked him.
Unai Emery suggested in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat at Saint Mary’s that Hector Bellerin was facing a couple of weeks out of action. The right-back picked up a calf problem in the second half and had to be replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He, like Sead Kolasinac who missed the trip to Saint Mary’s with a tight thigh sustained in training on Friday, is also undergoing further tests.
To compound matters, Emile Smith Rowe, who might have been expected to get game time, has a hip problem. We’re also without long-term absentees, Dinos Mavropanos, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck.
If we decide to go with a three-man defence tomorrow, we’re guessing it could be Sokratis, Koscielny and Lichtsteiner, flanked by Monreal and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (or Carl Jenkinson?). Ideally, you wouldn’t be subjecting Koscielny to a third game in a week at this point in his recovery, but we’re short on options.
Young centre-back Zech Medley played for the under-23s last night, so he’s seemingly out of contention which leaves Julio Pleguezuelo, who made his debut against Blackpool in the Carabao Cup in November, as an alternative.
There’s also the possibility that the boss will stick with Granit Xhaka in defence or use someone like Mo Elneny, who played there a couple of times under Arsene Wenger, to bolster his numbers.