Arsenal could ill-afford to lose any more defenders so to lose both Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis against Manchester United was a cruel blow.

Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) gestures to the medical staff after a clash with Arsenal's French defender Laurent Koscielny (L) leaves the latter in pain during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 25, 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Manchester United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) gestures to the medical staff after a clash with Arsenal’s French defender Laurent Koscielny (L) leaves the latter in pain during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 25, 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

Within 10 minutes of Sokratis leaving the pitch with a twisted ankle, United were ahead and Arsenal fans knew what was coming for the rest of the match. It’s a movie we’ve seen a thousand times before, the Jurassic Park of football fixtures.

Following that, the one player you didn’t want anything to happen to was Laurent Koscielny so of course, he got a freak boot to the face leaving him with what looks like a broken jaw. As most jaw fractures require surgery, he’s looking at at least six weeks just to heal the fracture.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  An injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal is given assistance during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 25: An injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal is given assistance during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Here at Daily Cannon, I’m only too quick to jump on the press when they slate Arsenal unfairly but as I was off on Friday I completely missed Alan Smith hailing Kos and Sokratis before the United game.

If this is what happens when the media are nice about Arsenal players, I’d rather they didn’t bother.

Evening Standard, 25 January 2018

“One of the most encouraging aspects of Arsenal’s win over Chelsea last weekend was the form of Sokratis and, particularly, Laurent Koscielny, the two centre-halves perhaps entrusted with keeping Marcus Rashford and Co quiet tonight,” is how Smudger started his article.

“Together, they played with intelligence and great determination. You could see it in their eyes. Nobody was getting past that day. You could argue, however, that they didn’t really face the strongest of threats, given the unsuccessful tactic of playing Eden Hazard as a so-called false nine.”

Smith then admits he was wrong about Kos, doubting he could return to the top level after his Achilles problem, a doubt we all held at one time or another. “I must admit, I was one of those who doubted Koscielny could return and reach the necessary levels again after rupturing his Achilles,” he wrote. “At 33, suffering such a serious injury looked like a step too far.

“Yet, it didn’t appear that way against Chelsea. The Frenchman, in fact, seemed to be enjoying a new lease of life, his appetite for the game revitalised. After being forced to nurse his sore Achilles for several months before going under the knife, it must have felt great to finally be pain free. This was almost the Koscielny of five years ago.

“For that reason, I do hope he plays in this one, rather than being rested for Tuesday’s visit of Cardiff.”