Arsenal team news vs Qarabag: Laurent Koscielny to make return from injury in dead rubber, says Unai Emery

Koscielny has not featured since rupturing his Achilles away to Atletico Madrid in May

Luke Brown
Wednesday 12 December 2018 15:35 GMT
Arsenal manager Unai Emery reacts to Arsenal's win over Huddersfield

Unai Emery has confirmed that club captain Laurent Koscielny will start Arsenal's Europa League dead-rubber against Qarabag on Thursday night.

Koscielny has not featured since rupturing his Achilles away to Atletico Madrid in May, but is set to start in a much-changed side.

“We are going to play a lot of matches, in the next 10 days we play four matches and each of them is very important, so in the Europa League we are going to use some different players,” Emery said at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground on Wednesday.

“We have players coming from the under-23 team and also it is in our planning to start with Laurent Koscielny.”

Emery was however reluctant to say whether Koscielny would be fit enough to play two games in one week, as Arsenal continue to manage their defensive injury crisis.

Arsenal play Southampton this weekend with Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Rob Holding (knee) and Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) all set to miss out.

“We have some players with injuries at centre back and also with these injuries are Mavropanos and Holding and a few out [suspended] with yellow cards,” he said.

“We are going to decide after [Thursday’s] match, as it is the first match with us that Koscielny will play. We are going to look also if he can play 90 minutes or less minutes in this game.

“We can use another player in this position, someone like Nacho Monreal, who is also with us and in his career he played in this position [before]. We are going to decide but the first is to think about the match on Thursday because we need to receive information on how he can feel.”

Mesut Ozil is likely to be involved in some manner following a back problem – although Emery said he has not yet decided whether the German will start the match or not.

“I don’t know,” he replied, when asked if Ozil will return to the starting XI.

Unai Emery has not made a decision on Mesut Ozil
Unai Emery has not made a decision on Mesut Ozil (Arsenal FC via Getty)

“Tomorrow he is in the group, there are 18 players in the squad for this match and I am going to decide if he plays tomorrow from the beginning or during the match in the 90 minutes.

Provisional squad: Leno, Martinez, Cech, Bellerin, Jenkinson, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos, Medley, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Gilmour, Torreira, Willock, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Saka, Nketiah.

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