Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has publicly clarified the length of time that centre-back Shkodran Mustafi will be sidelined for.
The 24-year-old defender, who has settled into the Gunners’ first team seamlessly since a £35m move from Valencia in August, limped off before the half-hour mark at the Emirates during their 3-1 win over Stoke on Saturday.
Post-match, the boss was questioned about the severity of Mustafi’s injury, “I believe it looks quite a good hamstring strain. Good as in a bad sense,” Wenger was initially quoted as saying.
When pushed for more detail in his answer, the 67-year-old said: “It’s a bad one. The minimum for an injury like that is 21 days – so he will have a nice Christmas.”
This is Mustafi’s first injury for twelve months, having sustained a muscle issue at Valencia in December last year, missing three league games as a consequence.
Gabriel Paulista has established his first team credentials in an unfamiliar role at right-back with Hector Bellerín (ankle) previously sidelined, but now that the talented Spaniard has returned, it’s likely that the Brazilian will be rewarded with an extended run-in as the Christmas fixtures continue to pile up over the coming weeks.
Per Mertesacker (knee) is still at least a few weeks away from a return to first team football, having been pictured in training this past week. The experienced defender will be hoping to feature in some capacity as he eyes a starting spot in 2017, aiming to reunite his partnership at centreback alongside Laurent Koscielny.