Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be bereft of the services of summer signing Granit Xhaka for the FA Cup clash against Southampton.
Wenger acquired the services of the Swiss midfielder for a tantalising £30 million from German side Borussia Monchengladbach. This was Arsenal’s third most expensive signing ever, and the club hierarchy were optimistic that it would reap huge dividends.
The Gunners were crying for a solid presence in the middle of the park, and Xhaka was eyed as the ideal option to boost their resolve in midfield. However, the 24-year-old has struggled to cope with life in England and despite his high fee, he has failed to impress Wenger of his credentials as a regular first-team player.
His disciplinary record had been shambolic even before his move to North London, but he is failing to curb his aggressive streak, which has seen him receive two red cards in the league this season, despite making only 15 starts.
His most recent incident came in the win over Burnley, where he was shown a straight red for a treacherous challenge on midfielder Steven Defour. Referee John Moss, without a moment of hesitation, reached into his pocket and gave the player his marching orders.
The 24-year-old is set to miss Arsenal’s next four games because of this, which includes the game against Southampton. Also missing out will be Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker who have been long term injury absentees. Mertesacker may have returned to full training, but will play no part in this cup tie.
Mohamed Elneny is playing in the African Cup of Nations for Egypt, which would mean Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin is the obvious pairing at the heart of midfield.
On the up side, Wenger will welcome Theo Walcott back into the squad. The Englishman has been struggling with a calf problem for a number of weeks, but is now fit and gearing to return to the starting eleven.
Danny Welbeck is also returning to match fitness with two cameo appearances in the league recently. He is in line to make his first start of the season, with Wenger likely to give him the nod and hand a much needed breather to Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud.