Arsenal face centre back crisis ahead of FA Cup final

Arsenal face centre back crisis ahead of FA Cup final

Arsenal face a defensive problem ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday

Dylan Walsh

Arsenal could only have two fully fit centre backs for the FA Cup final against Chelsea this weekend.

In the final Premier League game of the season, Laurent Koscielny was sent off for a reckless challenge on Enner Valencia early on in the first half, making him unavailable for the Cup final, and later on in the game Gabriel was stretchered off with a leg injury, to which Arsene Wenger confirmed post-game that it would keep the Brazilian centre back out of the game on Saturday.

From bad to worse

As if it wasn’t bad enough for the Gunners, it was reported today by BBC Sport that Shkodran Mustafi is a doubt for Saturday’s game with a suspected concussion, the same injury that kept the German out of yesterday’s 3-1 win against Everton.

Arsenal have recently been deploying a 3-4-2-1 for the latter parts of the season, and the formation has been a success for the North London club, as Arsenal have only lost once since changing to the formation. However, with three centre backs potentially out for the Gunners’ last game of the season, we could see Wenger resort back to a four at the back.

Small pickings

Rob Holding has been one of the few bright sparks in Arsenal’s season, as the young defender who Wenger snapped up from Bolton Wanderers for a reported fee of £2 million has showed maturity beyond his years when he has started for Arsenal.

Per Mertesacker is also available for the FA Cup final, however the former German international only made his return to the Arsenal first team from injury yesterday, playing the final 30 minutes of the season.

Nacho Monreal can also play at centre back, however the Spaniard’s best performances have come when the former Malaga fullback has played at wingback, meaning Wenger could be reluctant to deploy Monreal at centre back.