Unai Emery hopeful of crucial Arsenal fitness boost ahead of Southampton clash

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has conceded that he’s hopeful Laurent Koscielny is passed fit to face Southampton given his concerns in defence.

The Gunners are currently on an impressive 22-game unbeaten run in all competitions, as they continue to scrap to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

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Having already conceded 20 goals in 16 league outings, giving them the worst defensive record of the top five sides in the standings, the last thing that Emery needs is to be given additional defensive selection headaches.

Unfortunately for the Spanish tactician, that’s exactly what he faces this weekend when his side face a trip to Southampton on Sunday afternoon.

As noted by The Telegraph, Rob Holding is ruled out with a long-term injury setback, while Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are both suspended.

In turn, without specifically naming the French stalwart, Emery has suggested that he hopes Koscielny gets the all-clear to feature for a second time in less than a week after making his highly-anticipated comeback from injury against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday night.

“We have not got Mustafi, Holding or Sokratis, but I believe in our players and I think we can use other players as centre-backs,” he is quoted as saying by the Telegraph. “I have one idea in my mind but we need to know how they will recover physically for the possibility of playing on Sunday.”

The Gunners start the weekend in fifth place, level on points with Chelsea and just two adrift of Tottenham. With that in mind, coupled with the busy festive period being upon us, it will be crucial for Emery to get as close to having a fully-fit squad available as possible.

Although Mustafi is out with suspension, the German international did limp out of the win over Huddersfield last weekend with a suspected hamstring injury too, as noted by the club, and so it remains to be seen if that troubles him moving forward as he continues to be assessed.

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