Laurent Koscielny is set to face a late fitness test today ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Qualifier against Besiktas despite playing a full ninety minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Kieran Gibbs is also struggling with a knock, however Arsene Wenger is convinced he has enough in his squad to challenge the Turkish outfit and ensure progression to the Group Stage.
Per Mertesacker only returned to training last week after an extended break due to Germany’s World Cup winning exploits, and Wenger has not ruled out the possibility of using the centre-back should Koscielny miss out.
Wenger told Arsenal’s official website:
We will assess Koscielny on Monday; if he’s fit and capable to play, we play him. It was our plan to bring the Germans back in contention for Everton. But in case of emergency I will take Mertesacker.
But we have Bellerin, who was 19 today, who can come in. we are a bit short. I hope Koscielny responds well to today’s game.
Wenger is ‘desperate’ to secure their place in the group stages of the illustrious European competition and knows it will be difficult to progress for a 17th successive season.
We are desperate to do it because we want to play in the Champions League and we know how big these games are.
We had to give a lot [against Crystal Palace], hopefully we will recover and be ready for Tuesday night.
We are desperate to go through, no matter what it costs we want to go through. We have always a difficult draw, we had Fenerbahce last year, this time we have Besiktas. It’s difficult.
After a morale boosting victory over Crystal Palace and their previous experience in Champions League play-offs, the Gunners boss can have some confidence going into the tie.
It will certainly not be easy but if they can do a job in Turkey tomorrow night then they can come back confident ahead of a difficult tie with Everton this weekend. Hopefully Koscielny pulls through okay as we do not want to bring Mertesacker back too quickly, however we must be cautious if the Frenchman is suffering so early on in the season.