Arsenal will face the Azerbaijani side Qarabag on Thursday in which should be little more than a training game for the Gunners, and we are likely to see lots of up and coming youth players getting a run out, but more importantly Emery must find some way to put out a strong defensive line-up for the trip to Southampton on Sunday to keep our unbeaten run going.
As we all know Sokratis and Mustafi both earned a fifth booking yesterday and are suspended for the game on the South Coast, and when asked, Emery said that he would need some time to think about it! “I need for my mind to take two days off!” he quipped.
So with Mavropanos still some way to go before playing, and Rob Holding out for the season, the defenders available next week are; Nacho Monreal (who managed 25 minutes yesterday after a couple of months out); Laurent Koscielny (who has played parts of two reserve games all season); and Stephan Lichtsteiner (who played 45 minutes in that position yesterday). Emery himself struggled to name any more when asked yesterday at the Arsenal after-match conference. “Now, I don’t know how we are going to play next week, but we have players. Stephan played at centre back today and had a good performance in Manchester with good commitment. Koscielny is also coming back, Nacho Monreal too. We’ll have players.”
Now I’m guessing that both Koscielny and Monreal will get a short run out against Qarabag so their reactions can be assessed, but if their fitness is in question, who else could we possibly use as a centre-back other than Lichtsteiner?