Arsenal face crucial Southampton clash with injury doubts over captain Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka

The stand-in Arsenal captain suffered a knock in the 2-0 win over Manchester United

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The Independent Football

Arsenal could be without captain Laurent Koscielny and midfielder Granit Xhaka for Wednesday’s important Premier League trip to Southampton in a game they cannot afford to lose if they are to finish inside the top four this season.

Sunday’s victory over Manchester United, combined with Liverpool’s failure to beat the Saints, has given Arsenal a glimmer of hope that they could yet qualify for the Champions League next season.

But Arsene Wenger’s side need to win all of their remaining four matches, starting with Southampton on Wednesday night, and hope that Liverpool fail to win one of their two games left this season against West Ham United and Middlesbrough – who were relegated on Monday night after a 3-0 defeat by Chelsea.

Part of Arsenal’s late-season revival has been the switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation, but Koscielny has proven key to that change with the Gunners beating Middlesbrough, Manchester City, Leicester and United with the stand-in captain at the heart of the back three.

Arsenal could also be without Granit Xhaka for the trip to St Mary’s, with the Switzerland international suffering a knock last week that he took into the United game and appeared to aggravate, leading to his withdrawal during the second half of the win over United. Xhaka put in one of his best performances in what has been a difficult debut season for the midfielder in the Premier League, but Wenger seemed far more optimistic that he would be available for the trip to the south coast.

"We have some worries for Koscielny he might not be available, he will have a test today,” Wenger said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

"We will make the decision after training. Xhaka similar but he looks to have recovered well, news for him is better."

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