Sokratis Papastathopoulos went off injured after only 20 minutes in Arsenal’s FA Cup 1-3 defeat to Manchester United on Friday following an aerial battle with Jesse Lingard. The misfortune was later severely compounded when Romelu Lukaku, apparently unintentionally, hit Laurent Koscielny on the jaw with his foot and forced the captain off as well. With Shkodran Mustafi already on for Sokratis, manager Unai Emery was forced to deploy midfielder Granit Xhaka at the heart of defence again.
On Tuesday night, Arsenal will look to continue their quest for a top-four position in the Premier League when the Gunners host struggling Cardiff at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal heads into this clash on the back of a 3-1 home defeat against Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The Gunners will be hoping for better fortunes on their return to the Premier League.
The Gunners have been inconsistent of late in the Premier League, winning three of their last matches in the top-flight. However, a 2-0 win over Chelsea in their last league game means that the team from north London could move into the top four of the table with a victory in this clash.
Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Friday was always going to be difficult. It turned out too difficult for the Gunners, who suffered a 3-1 defeat to exit the competition. In truth, United exposed Arsenal defensive vulnerabilities with some superb counter-attacking football.
Deadly on the counter-attack
In reality, Manchester United underperformed this season prior to the hiring of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as temporary boss. Former boss Jose Mourinho’s cautious tactics stifled the immense attacking talent at the Manchester club.
In Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off, Arsenal travels to the London Stadium to face West Ham, as the Gunners look to move into the top four of the table.
The home side has enjoyed a topsy-turvy first season under veteran boss Manuel Pellegrini. The Hammers are currently tenth in the table in the group of teams all battling to be the best of the rest below the top six.
The Irons have not been in great form of late, as they have won just once in their last four outings, suffering two defeats in the process. Last time out in the Premier League, Brighton held the Hammers to a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium.
Arsenal seem to be moving in a more positive direction under Spanish Unai Emery. The atmosphere has certainly changed since the summer exit of veteran boss Arsene Wenger.
Summer signings have enjoyed mixed results
The positive changes have been down to Emery adding fresh ideas, as it certainly is not down to the clubs summer signings. It would be fair to say that the summer signings have produced mixed results.
Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira looks to be a bargain, while young French midfielder Mateo Guendouzi is showing promise. However, the jury is still very still out on centre-back Sokratis and goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
On Tuesday afternoon, Arsenal host Fulham at the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League.
The Gunners have been inconsistent of late in the Premier League. In fact, Unai Emery’s side has won just one of their last four league games. Last time out in the top-flight, the home side suffered a 5-1 mauling at Liverpool.
The defeat at Anfield means that the side from north London has kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League outings. Both teams have also scored in 12 of their previous 13 league matches.
On Saturday evening, Arsenal face a tough trip to Merseyside to face Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in their 19 Premier League games this season. The Merseysiders good run of form has seen Jurgen Klopp’s side go six points clear of second place Tottenham at the top of the table.
Last time out Liverpool recorded a 4-0 home win over Newcastle. The game against the Magpies saw the Reds score at least two goals for the fifth consecutive league. It also means that Liverpool have kept clean sheets in three of their last four league outings.
Laurent Koscielny probably isn’t going to want to check social media in the next few days.
The defender has received an awful lot of criticism in the wake of his performance against Southampton, as Arsenal surrendered their 22 game unbeaten run on the south coast. In truth there were a lot of factors behind the defeat and there are a lot of reasons for Arsenal fans to be frustrated, but we don’t think getting annoyed at Laurent is the way forward. If anything, it’s on the shoulders of manager Unai Emery for trying to get the Frenchman to return before he’s ready.
Arsenal face a trip to struggling Southampton later today and it is a game on paper that the Gunners should comfortably win. The home sides form and confidence are currently very poor, but there are some issues that suggest this could be a banana skin of a match.
The new boss bounce
One of those issues is the prospect of the Saints prospects improving because of the appointment of new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Austrian has had just one game in charge of the team from the south coast, a 1-0 defeat at Cardiff.
On Sunday afternoon, Arsenal visit Southampton’s St Mary’s in the Premier League, as the Gunners look to maintain their long unbeaten run.
Southampton have struggled for wins this season and the Saints are currently 19th place in the table. The Saints have failed to win in 12 Premier League outings. However, new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is highly-rated and is expected to improve the home sides fortunes. Sunday’s game will be the Austrian’s first home match in charge of his new team.