Arsenal return from the international break to face a sticky away game at Watford, and it was thought we had defensive problems ahead of the game but it seems that Arsene Wenger is pretty confident that Laurent Koscielny will be fit to return to the centre of defence but there is no chance of Shkrodan Mustafi lining up alongside. Le Prof said: “We lost Mustafi for about four to six weeks and I don’t think he’ll be available before the next international break. Ozil and Welbeck are back in the group in normal training.”
“Koscielny has a definite final test tomorrow. At the moment, he’s not available. He trained on his own and the first signs are positive, so we decided to give him a test tomorrow.
But the Boss also admitted that our defensive lynchpin is expected to pass his fitness test ahead of the match, although he still has worries. “Yes, I have. I think about sorting out the problem, but overall I will completely decide what I do tomorrow because Koscielny will have a test then. He worked quite hard physically, he looks like he is capable of playing if he survives the test. If he has no pain on his Achilles tendon, he can play. I will decide that tomorrow.”
The good news is that Koscielny rejoined training with the team yesterday so we can happily assume that he passed Wenger’s tests. But Mustafi’s injury is a blow and Wenger admitted it caught him by surprise. “It’s always difficult to predict the situation because the player I least expected to lose during the break was Mustafi. First of all, I was not sure he would play. Secondly, Germany had already qualified so I didn’t expect him to be out injured as the games would be less intense. He didn’t play in the first game, and we lost him in the second game against Azerbaijan at home. We have to cope with that now.”
But even though we will miss the German international, we still have an adequate replacement in Rob Holding, and although the youngster seemed to be lacking a little confidence in the early stages of the season, Per Mertesacker believes he has now improved once again. “I think he learns a lot,” our BFG said on Arsenal.com. “He’s consistently learning, he wants to learn and is trying to make things happen for himself.
“I think he’s coming right back. In your second year, that’s the normal struggle you go through. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, because he just wants to keep going. It doesn’t always go like that.
“I’m quite happy with his recent form, because he’s stepped up again and tried to prioritise. Sometimes you have to make sure you win your duels and play the simple pass, instead of playing that final ball. Sometimes you need to know what you do as a defender, play without mistakes at the start and even when you get more confidence, you can play those balls.
“He understands what it means to be a professional footballer. You have those dips and those situations where you know it’s going to be difficult, but just move on from them. He’s done that quite well.
“He wants to take responsibility and in moments of frustration it’s hard to come back from them, but he understand that it’s a journey and that’s what I like about him.”
We must all hope that these two, along with Nacho Monreal, can keep Watford out today and help towards the three points. Considering we have yet to score in an away League game this season, a tight defence could be crucial as we try to regain confidence on the road….