Aaron Ramsey is also a doubt after coming off at half-time in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Wednesday with an ankle injury. However, Granit Xhaka will return from suspension to reinforce Unai Emery’s midfield.
Arsenal confirmed today that Rob Holding will be out for six to nine months after the centre-back suffered a rupture to his anterior cruciate ligament at Old Trafford, which caused him to be stretchered off during the first-half.
However, Laurent Koscielny won’t be available to form a like-for-like replacement with the defender being brought off with cramp during Arsenal’s U23 Checkatrade Trophy match on Tuesday, and Emery insisted the club won't rush the return of their captain.
“We are on a gradual way with him,” Emery said.
“He’s played two matches with the under-23s. He played 85 minutes on Tuesday and our plan is that he can maybe be with us in the 18 on Saturday. Maybe he can play against Qarabag in the Europa League.
“He’s working with us with very big performances every day in training. He’s playing for the under-23s with a good feeling. The next step is for him to be with us.”
Holding’s injury means that Emery will likely be forced to return to a four-at-the-back formation having utilised three centre-backs in recent high-profile fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United.
Nacho Monreal (hamstring), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) and Danny Welbeck (ankle) remain long-term absentees from the squad.
Provisional squad: Leno, Cech, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah.
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