Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has issued a worrying injury update on his players ahead of tomorrow’s League Cup semi-final first-leg versus Chelsea. The Gunners take on their London rivals for the second time in less than a week, with the previous league meeting at the Emirates having ended in a 2-2 draw.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Wenger confirmed that the likes of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi are doubtful for the Cup encounter, and they may have late fitness tests to assess their involvement, he told the club’s official website: “He [Xhaka] has a test today. We’ll see how he comes through that. Mustafi will also have a test today. I don’t know exactly how available they will be. I will know more after training.”
Wenger gambled with an understrength side during the FA Cup meeting versus Nottingham Forest in the third round, and the move backfired as the visitors romped to a 4-2 victory. A number of fringe players failed to make their chances pay versus the Championship club, and this could pretty much be their last participation with Wenger unlikely to rotate further in the Cup competitions.
The League Cup remains the Gunners’ best chance of attaining silverware at the moment, but there is not an easy route with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City on their route to the title, which Wenger has never won during the course of his Gunners career.
The French tactician has not given much importance to the League Cup over the years, as he has reckoned the competition as a platform for younger players to progress, but we should see the strongest lineup feature versus the Blues, who are unlikely to compromise with their team selection as well.
Aside from Xhaka and Mustafi, the likes of Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac are sidelined for the next couple of days at the least whilst Santi Cazorla remains a long-term absentee from the previous campaign with a recurring Achilles problem.
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