Arsenal: Key player a doubt for PSG; Mustafi on win; Giroud warns of Cavani
Arsenal are sweating on the fitness of key defender Laurent Koscielny, with a difficult Champions League opener against PSG looming on Tuesday.
The Frenchman was down inside the penalty area in the build up to the penalty that earned the Gunners a late win over Southampton after taking a whack in the eye.
Arsene Wenger confirmed after the game that his face was a little swollen above the eye, but impact injuries such as these can be managed; even if Koscielny has to wear a protective mask.
The former Lorient defender has been a steadying influence since returning from action at Leicester last month, and Wenger will be keen for him to guide new boy Shkodran Mustafi through his first few games.
An untried pairing of Mustafi and youngster Rob Holding would not be the ideal defensive platform for such a challenging away game, so Arsenal need to get Koscielny patched up.
Speaking of Mustafi, the most defensive defender in the club’s history has put their comeback against the Saints down to German style never-say-die spirit.
Speaking after the game, he said: “I’m a German. We are known for staying in the game until the end and that’s what gave us the three points.
“That’s what people tell me all the time at every club when I live in different countries — so I’ve brought it up before someone else does.
“It’s important to stay in the game until the last second — until the referee blows the whistle.
“We had opportunities before that to score, but that’s football. You create chances, but the most important thing is to believe and we believed until the end and that’s what gave us the points.”
It is worth noting that Arsenal’s three major purchases this summer were all captains at their previous clubs; Mustafi, Lucas Perez and Granit Xhaka.
Aside from their footballing ability, it seems as if Wenger made a conscious effort to supplement his team with additional, though intangible, mental qualities.
Finally, speaking ahead of Tuesday night’s game in Paris, Olivier Giroud has picked out Edinson Cavani as the player Arsenal must seek to stifle.
“Cavani is a player who can make the difference. If he has a big night, he can hurt us,” Giroud said, speaking to French broadcaster Telefoot.
“Paris are the favourites in this group. They will be ready. Let’s make them doubt themselves. We are expecting tough opposition when we get there.”
All in all, a case of stating the obvious from Arsenal’s French striker though it will be interesting to see if he gets the nod over Lucas to deal with Cavani’s height at set pieces.
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