Arsenal have some serious problems in the defence, having conceded nine goals in their last four matches. However, it looks like they are set to go into yet another match without first-choice centre-back Laurent Koscielny.
The Frenchman injured his calf during the match against Swansea, which the Gunners lost 2-1. Koscielny was reported to have been recovering well, but manager Arsene Wenger says that his countryman will not be featuring in the FA Cup replay against Hull City on Tuesday night.
“Laurent will be short for Hull. He has a chance to be available for the weekend, but I think even for then he will be short,” Wenger was quoted as saying by Arsenal’s official website.
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista is expected to start alongside Mertesacker in the defence until the Frenchman returns to action.
Another big absentee for Arsenal is their star goalkeeper Petr Cech. The Czech Republic international also suffered a calf injury and is expected to be out of action for another four weeks.
“Petr’s scans were better than expected, but it will still be four weeks for him. So after the international break,” said Wenger.
Although Wenger will be taking more or less a full strength squad to Hull, one key player will not be travelling with the Gunners. Francis Coquelin picked up a red card against Spurs, and will miss the game through suspension. In his place, Wenger has brought in youngster Alex Iwobi, who is expected to feature in the match.
“I have to see how everybody has recovered today but overall we should have the same squad that went to Tottenham plus Alex Iwobi will certainly be added to the squad,” said Wenger.
Petr Cech’s absence to be a big blow?
Petr Cech has played a central role in Arsenal’s title charge this season. His transfer from cross town rivals Chelsea certainly raised more than a few eyebrows, but the Czech Republic international has been one of the biggest positive influences in the Gunners’s defence.
More interestingly, Cech also speaks four different languages — Spanish, French, German, and English, making it easier to communicate with the Arsenal back four, who are from different nationalities. It was speculated that Cech was the final piece that Wenger was missing in his jigsaw, but the gruelling English season has hit the Gunners hard, with a host of different injuries to their players. Cech’s injury certainly ranks as one of the most difficult ones to deal with for Wenger and his team.