According to the BBC, Arsenal’s Bosnia and Herzegovina full-back Sead Kolasinac will miss the first eight-ten weeks of the Premier League season through injury. The former Schalke star sustained the knee injury in the Gunners International Champions Cup clash with Chelsea on Wednesday.
The estimated timescale would see the Bosnian missed eight top-flight matches, two Europa League games and the third round of the League Cup. The news is a blow to the player and Gunners boss Unai Emery, who now has a dilemma on the left-hand side of his defence.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles set to deputise
With Spanish international Nacho Monreal reportedly set to miss the start of the campaign due to a break after the World Cup. Monreal had played much of last season as a centre-back in a back three.
However, Emery has favoured a flat back four at previous clubs and in pre-season so far with the Gunners. Monreal may be versatile but has played as a full-back for most of his career. It seems Monreal will be ready to start the season in any position.
Therefore, youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles may get the nod to deputise on the left side of defence. Maitland-Niles’ natural position is in central midfield, but previous Gunners boss Arsene Wenger converted him into a left wing-back or a left-back.
The England under-21 did not look out of place when he played for the Gunners last season and has now made 17 first-team appearances for the team from north London. There is no doubt he will not let anybody down if he starts the season in the Arsenal starting line-up.
A difficult start to the campaign for Arsenal
Unai Emery will have wanted a fully fit squad heading into the start of the season, especially given the Gunners difficult opening fixtures. The north London team kick-off their Premier League campaign with a home game against Manchester City next Sunday, a game the Gunners are odds of 23/10 to win. The home game is followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea.
Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey is also struggling with a calf injury but is hoping to return to training next week in a bid to be fit for that difficult opener with the champions.
Arsenal has produced some positive displays in pre-season. However, the effect that Emery’s arrival on the team will only be evident when the Premier League campaign kicks off.
Should Ainsley Maitland-Niles start against Manchester City?