Unai Emery says he’s going to wait until the last minute to make a decision over the fitness of Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny.

The pair have been sidelined with groin and foot injuries respectively, but there was a boost when they joined in training today ahead of the Europa League quarter-final with Napoli on Thursday night.

However, the Arsenal boss says he won’t make his mind up on their participation until closer to kick-off, giving them another day to move towards full fitness.

“Tomorrow we will decide,” he said about the key duo, cognisant that aggravating any injury at this point of the campaign could see a player sidelined for remains of the season.

There was also an update on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has suffering from illness over the last week.

“He had a small problem and he has taken antibiotics for his illness,” he said of the striker who has been on the bench for the last two games.

“That’s the main reason he didn’t start those two matches. For tomorrow, he’s getting better and can start or can play after.”

The Gunners do have Lucas Torreira available again after missing three domestic games due to the ludicrous red card he was given against Sp*rs last month, while Sokratis’ two game ban rules him out of the next two Premier League matches but ensures he’ll start against the Italians.

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henrymademedoit
henrymademedoit

If you could pick only Koscielny or Xhaka to be fit for the game, who would you pick?

I’d personally go with Koscielny, even considering the future need for him to feature against Watford. He brings a calm and solidarity to the back that goes well with Papa and Nacho.

Torreira coming in to midfield alongside one of the others seems good enough for now, and hopefully he is fresh enough to cover that area.

Looking forward to being back at home as well!

Goonereality
Goonereality

A sea-change in performance is needed on Thursday and we need to be at as full strength as possible to avoid a big disappointment. I think a two goal cushion for the away tie is required, particularly as we’ve such a leaky defence on the road (both in the EPL and Europe). I really hope we can put in a couple of good performances against Napoli. They’re a decent side though and, to be honest, it could go either way.

Nketibag
Nketibag

Two up front and actually playing to our strengths would be a good start.

Cacho
Cacho

I think playing at home first is actually what we need right now. After putting a nice little run together for the past few weeks, the Everton game brought us back to reality. Easily a situation where going to Napoli first could’ve been a bloodbath off the back of a low energy loss. Playing at home first now gives us the chance to build some confidence with a good performance. Let’s hope even if Kos isn’t fit we can scrape together a clean sheet which will be a very tough indeed

A Different George
A Different George

Need a big attack to be safe for the second leg, so:
4-2-3-1: Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles–Xhaka and Torreira–Aubameyang, Ozil, and Mkhitaryan (or even Ramsey)–Lacazette.

The fullbacks are the weak spots. (I like Monreal a lot, just being realistic). Both were terrible at Goodison. Torreira’s presence ought to help with cover–enough to use Lichsteiner or Kolasinac? Keep Ozil high up the pitch where he creates chances, let him find space so that his quick passes that defenders cannot anticipate are to Lacazette and Aubameyang, not to midfielders or defenders.

lessthanthesumoftheirparts
lessthanthesumoftheirparts

Sokratis is available

myrtle
myrtle

I cannot wait for tomorrow’s return of the Terrier.

BigArse
BigArse

I hope Xhaka is available. He ties everything together and, despite the occasional glaring error, has become indispensable.

Jason
Jason

Agree, without Xhaka we are definitely missing a few tricks. He is great Captain material as well!

Sue

Always look forward to seeing my team play, but am a little apprehensive also…. I saw that if Sokratis, Xhaka or Mkhi are booked tomorrow they’ll miss next week…. I really hope UE puts out a strong team & we can take our chances & get the job done.. as next week being away & all 😬😬😬

Santori
Santori

Torreira available will be a boon. Another option next to either Guendouzi or Ramsey. Or we have GUendouzi-Ramsey (If it ain’t broke don’t fix) and work Torreira back in.

Remember when Torreira came back from a spell out end last year, we slipped to BHA, Soton (away), Liverpool and West Ham. A costly 11 points.

Torreira in those matches either though poor pass out of the back or dispossession or lousy clearance cost us at least 5 turnovers in dangerous areas 4 of which led directly to goals against.

Granit meanwhile if not fully fit (like Koscielny) should be reserved for the league run in and the following return match away at Napoli.

The Swiss has been excellent switching focus of attack for us and releasing us from deep to front men quicker.

No surprise in his absence many of the long balls out from defense have come from Mustafi. Clearly not the same quality albeit last match he put in one quality ball to Lacazette.

BUT Granit has also improved his ball retention and general awareness far more this season than many lazy critics give him credit for.

Its a long way still in the run in for the league so we have to be sanguine with out selections.

Different players have different characteristics in deep midfield.

They will have to adjust to the different advantages and disadvantages and find their own dynamic for the deep two pairing and play to those strengths. For Guendouzi-Ramsey, you get a lot of high energy press further up field. The defense will have to watch the gap in front of them, fullbacks ready to swap in field to cover, Ozil will drop deeper.