Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Petr Čech are both doubts for Arsenal’s clash with Leicester City at this stage, as they recover from recent injuries.
Over the international break, Sokratis had to come off at half-time of Greece’s clash with Finland. There were rumours that he’d picked up an ankle knock, which Unai Emery confirmed in his press conference on Thursday.
“The players are coming back now [from the international break],” Emery said. “Only Sokratis had one problem, one small injury. Maybe, for Monday, it’s difficult [for him to play]. The others are okay.”
Meanwhile, Petr Čech suffered a hamstring injury late last month against Watford. Emery told reporters that the goalkeeper is on the way back, but still not yet involved in full training with the team.
“Petr Cech is getting better from his injury but he’s not training with the group,” the head coach said. “But I think he’s very close to start with us.”
If the 36-year-old still isn’t back training with the team a few days before the Monday game, it seems unlikely he’ll start over Bernd Leno. Perhaps he’ll make the bench, but that seems like the most he can hope for in this case.
That’s not really a big problem, because Arsenal have plenty of games for Čech to play in. There’s the match on Monday, then a trip to Lisbon on Thursday, then Crystal Palace on Sunday, before Blackpool the following Wednesday to round out the month. If Čech isn’t back in time for this one, he’ll still get chances in the next week and a half.
Plus, Leno is in good form, so the team don’t need to worry about whether he can cope in the meantime. The concern is more over Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding being the only options at centre-back. Hopefully, Sokratis returns quickly so there are at least three centre-backs in the squad.