Arsene Wenger may well be wishing he had not been so cautious in last month’s transfer window, because Arsenal now look like being without three key defenders for tomorrow’s game at Sunderland. Captain Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny are the players injured, leaving just Per Mertesacker as a first choice centre back.
Koscielny, who picked up a calf injury playing for France against Germany on Wednesday, will have a fitness test so there is a chance he could play. That would be a huge boost, because the options are bringing somebody up from the reserves, like Ignasi Miquel, Squillachi or Bacary Sagna, with Carl Jenkinson taking over at right back.
Sunderland will try to keep the game very tight tomorrow and exploit corners and free kicks as much as possible. We are not very good at defending them with our first choice back four, so a makeshift one could spell disaster. It makes Wenger’s decision to allow Johan Djourou to go on loan to Hannover without replacing him look very risky.
Next weekend Blackburn come to London in the FA cup, and 11 days from now is the first leg of the Champions league against Bayern Munich. We need Koscielny and Vermaelen back for that, because Monreal is cup tied after playing for Malaga, and Santos is the only other option.