Arsenal’s defensive worries ahead of the FA Cup have increased after Kieran Gibbs emerged as a major doubt for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea.
Having already lost Laurent Koscielny to suspension and Gabriel to injury, there are also big worries over Shkodran Mustafi who has yet to return to training after a concussion.
The German was too ill to play on the final day against Everton, and remains so far under weather that he can’t even train. It means he’s a huge doubt for the Wembley showdown, and that news was compounded by the revelation that Gibbs is struggling with a thigh injury.
If he were to miss out, it would leave Arsene Wenger with a massive headache when it comes to his team selection for Saturday.
He has only Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker currently available as centre-halves, and Nacho Monreal could have joined them in a back three with Gibbs at wing-back.
However, without the England international, he may have to revert to a back four, unless he does something unexpected like deploy the fit again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the left-sided wing-back.
For a game like this, against opposition like this, it’s a blow to lose to many defenders, but Cohen Bramall should be fine making his debut in the FA Cup final.
It sounds as if Wenger is going to leave it late to make final decisions, saying of Mertesacker’s potential involvement, “I don’t know as he has not played 90 minutes for a long time. He has the leadership qualities.
“It depends a little bit on the system I will go for.”