Arsene Wenger admits he has defensive concerns ahead of Arsenal‘s trip to Watford on Saturday.
Shkodran Mustafi is ruled out after sustaining a thigh injury whilst on international duty with Germany, while Laurent Koscielny is a doubt with an achilles tendon problem that caused him to miss the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Brighton earlier in the month.
Speaking to the club’s official website ahead of the match at Vicarage Road, Wenger has revealed he’s got a selection dilemma at the heart of the defence and will make a decision on the Frenchman on Friday.
“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,” Wenger said.
“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.”
‘We have to cope’
Wenger went into extra detail on Mustafi, expressing his disappointment at losing the defender to injury when he expected the 25-year-old to miss both games vs. Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan.
“It’s always difficult to predict the situation because the player I least expected to lose during the break was Mustafi,” he added.
“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.”
Shkodran Mustafi has made more clearances (31) in the Premier League than any other Arsenal player this season.
Last line of defence. pic.twitter.com/0lGckNAnd3
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 12, 2017
Another player that picked up an injury during the break was summer signing Sead Kolasinac, but Wenger doesn’t expect the Bosnian international’s hip problem to be too serious.
“He had a little hip problem but overall I haven’t seen him yet. I will make a check up this morning, but the news we have on him is quite positive.”
Mustafi and Koscielny are recognised as the north London outfit’s most senior defenders but have only played alongside each other four times this season.
The former’s start to the campaign was delayed as a result of his involvement at the Confederations Cup in the summer, while the latter was suspended for games against Stoke City and Liverpool and has averaged nine defensive actions – the most across the entire Arsenal squad.