After missing last weekend’s disappointing home draw with Sheffield United and Tuesday night’s amazing away draw with Chelsea, it looks like Sokratis Papastathopoulos or Σωκράτης Παπασταθόπουλος as they call him in Greece, should return for our FA Cup 4th Round tie with Bournemouth on Monday night.
David Luiz will now be suspended for three matches adding to Mikel Arteta’s defensive crisis (hm, if only there was some sort of WINDOW in JANUARY where you could TRANSFER in both temporary and permanent reinforcements). Ceballos could leave – this week!
Granit Xhaka was the surprise star of the defence against Chelsea on Tuesday, drafted in after Luiz got his marching orders so at least we now know he could deputise at the back if required. Sead Kolasinac is still out injured for a couple more games, along with Reiss Nelson, so things are going to be very stretched at the back, and with Aubameyang still suspended for the cup game, things are also reaching breaking point up front as well for the trip to the South Coast town, famous for not quite being as good as Brighton.
Calum Chambers has already been ruled out for the season after limping off against Chelsea at home and his subsequent ACL surgery. Rob Holding is back in the fold, and looks to have recovered from his injury, Hector Bellerin is also back while Shkodran Mustafi may play a part after a good game at Stamford Bridge in the week. The German played a blinder after one rather large error which led to the Luiz dismissal and Chelsea’s first goal via the penalty spot. Having watching Match of the Day today, there should be some element of blame at Leno’s feet as well, as if you watch it again, the German could definitely have made more of an effort to race out of his goal to clear.
In better news, Saka has been excellent as an emergency left-back in the absence of both Kolasinac and Tierney, but it will be great to get all of these suspensions, injuries and stupid mistakes out of the way and see what Arteta’s full squad can really do as the season enters its second half.
After Bournemouth in the cup on Monday, Aubameyang will be back from suspension for Burnley away on Feb 2nd, and then we play Newcastle at home on the 16th of February. This means a mid-season, player break spanning two whole weeks where some of our walking wounded can perhaps recover.
Following that, Luiz will be back and hopefully we can muster a good run towards the end of the season in both of the proper cups and the league as Arteta attempts to make this season count and prove it isn’t just transitional.