Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny missed our goalless draw with Liverpool last Monday, and their absence arguably played a large part in our struggles. Both men are set to miss the trip to Newcastle as well, with Koscielny injured and Mertesacker still suffering from his chest infection, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The report claims the giant German may have refused to take antibiotics, meaning his virus is taking longer than expected to dissipate.
Arsene Wenger was asked about the chance of the World Cup winner returning for the trip to St James’ park, and his response was not positive.
“At the moment he [Mertesacker] does not get better, on Wednesday he was not good, we had to send him home, he has a chest infection,” Wenger said.
“The Germans are a bit sceptical of that [antibiotics], I don’t know [what] sort of medication he is taking, I don’t know if he takes antibiotics.
“I hope that he comes in and says: ‘I am perfectly all right’.”
This is a huge blow, as we need our first choice centre-back pairing fit and ready for action. Gabriel showed glimpses of real quality against Liverpool, but Calum Chambers looked way out of his depth. The young Englishman was dominated by Christian Benteke, and his general decision making and passing were not those of a Premier League footballer.
Chambers has shown promise in the past, but clearly needs a lot more experience before he’s ready to make the step up on a regular basis.
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Hopefully Mertesacker and Koscielny return to the side sooner rather than later, as we clearly can’t rely on Chambers if we want to mount any type of title challenge this season.