Arsene Wenger has a fresh defensive crisis on his hands after he confirmed that Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal will both miss Arsenal's weekend Premier League match against Newcastle, along with the suspended Calum Chambers.
As if that wasn’t bad enough for the Gunners, they will also be without midfielder Aaron Ramsey after he suffered a hamstring injury in the 4-1 win over Galatasaray which saw him score a candidate for goal of the year.
Wenger handed right-back Mathieu Debuchy his first start in three months in the Champions League game in Turkey, but he could be forced to deploy the Frenchman as a makeshift centre-back given that he has no alternative options to partner Per Mertesacker at the back. With Debuchy set to start in the middle, either Hector Bellerin or defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini could play at right-back, with Kieran Gibbs coming back into the side on the left.
Arsenal's injury list
Arsenal's injury list
1/5 Mikel Arteta (midfield)
Like Diaby, the Spaniard is closing in on a return but the Swansea match will come to soon. The club captain last played in November.
2/5 Mathieu Debuchy (defender)
Returned in the FA Cup semi-final win over Reading but has since been ruled out with injury and Wenger confirmed he remains 'unavailable'.
3/5 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (midfield)
Suffered a hamstring injury against Manchester United in the FA Cup and hasn't played since as it has exacerbated a groin problem. Out at least until May and facing surgery in the summer.
4/5 Aaron Ramsey (midfield)
Aaron Ramsey caught a kick on his calf during the win over Hull and was later substituted. The Welshman was rated 50/50 for the Swansea match by Wenger, but it now appears that he is a major doubt for the clash at the Emirates.
5/5 Danny Welbeck (forward)
Danny Welbeck has not played since the goalless draw with Chelsea towards the end of April after suffering a knee injury. Wenger has confirmed that the injury is 'nothing major', and that he should return to full fitness before the end of the season.
The news will cause further frustration among Arsenal fans that have shown a serious level of discontent in recent weeks with the side below-par performances and Wenger’s failure to sign at least another defender in the summer.
Having brought in Debuchy and Chambers to replace the departed Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen, supporters called for another defender to be added to the squad to strengthen what they hoped would be a title challenge, but Wenger decided against signing another player and the Gunners currently find themselves down in sixth, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, Wenger confirmed that Koscielny had not suffered a recurrence of the ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines earlier in the season, but had picked up a new calf strain that will definitely keep him out of Saturday’s evening kick-off.
"He [Koscielny] has a calf strain and that's why he's out,” said Wenger. "He [Gibbs] is available and Flamini is available too.
“Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck are fit and rested.”
On Ramsey’s knock, Wenger admitted it was a disappointment not to have him available after he scored in his last two outings.
He added: "It's a shame because he was getting close to matching last season's form.”
Wenger is aware that Newcastle’s run of form – which has led to Alan Pardew picking up the award for Barclays Manager of the Month – means they pose a serious threat on Saturday.
"They are doing well and are on a good run so it'll be a good challenge for us,” he said. “Overall we are on a good trend.
"We are united for one target: to do well for the club we love and that's what we want to achieve.
"Society wants to win the next game and it's a permanent tribunal for everyone. Pardew has done a great job this season."
The 65-year-old Frenchman also explained that Lukas Podolski will get a chance to show he belongs in the starting line-up after his brace against Galatasaray in mid-week, which once again demonstrated his prowess in front of goal.
"He's getting back into form,” explained Wenger. “There's a lot of competition up front. He will get a chance"
"I can understand frustration but he has to be ready when his chance comes to help the club."
- More about: