ARSENAL boss Unai Emery is sweating on the fitness of a host of defenders ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Liverpool.
Emery, who succeed Arsene Wenger as Gunners boss in May, is hoping to make it 14 games in all competitions without defeat but he faces the prospect of naming a patched-up side.
Hector Bellerin (thigh) is being assessed ahead of Liverpool’s visit to the Emirates Stadium.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is on standby to start at right-back after replacing Bellerin at half-time in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos (ankle) is also a doubt while fellow central defenders Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) remain long-term absentees.
Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi are likely to continue at centre-back.
Julio Pleguezuelo, 21, impressed on his Arsenal debut against Blackpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday and could make the bench.
It is at left-back where Emery’s problems begin to pile up.
Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac (both hamstring) face a race against time to prove their fitness.
Monreal, 32, has missed the last four games while Kolasinac, 25, has been limited to one appearance all season.
Midfielder Granit Xhaka has been playing out of position at left-back in recent weeks while forgotten man Carl Jenkinson filled the void in the 2-1 win against Blackpool.
Even if Monreal and Kolasinac fail to recover in time, Emery could be forced to move Xhaka back to his natural position because Matteo Guendouzi (suspension) and Mohamed Elneny (thigh) are unavailable.
Aaron Ramsey is an option to partner Lucas Torreira in midfield against Liverpool but he failed to shine in a more withdrawn role in the cup tie with League One side Blackpool.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita but can call on Mohamed Salah’s services.
The trip to north London comes too soon for Henderson and Keita (both hamstring) while Salah’s wrist complaint is not a problem.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Jurgen Klopp said: “Hendo feels really good but it will be probably the start of the week when he will be back in training.
“Naby [will be the]end of this week. It doesn’t make a big difference match-wise, but that’s how it looks.
“Mo, it is nothing really serious; it’s a kind of inflammation of the tendon. That’s pretty much all, it [the support]was only for protection – the pictures you saw were only protection and it has no influence.”