Arsenal’s key midfielder Bacary Sagna is set for an extended spell on the sidelines as his hamstring injury is worse than originally feared. Owing to this, he is likely to miss Arsenal’s crunch clashes against Napoli in the Champions League and top of the weekend clash against City in the Premier League.
As it stands, Carl Jenkinson will keep his place in the team for Wednesday night’s decisive Champions League trip to Napoli, where Arsenal only need to avoid a three-goal defeat to reach the knockout stages. Victory or a draw would guarantee top spot in the group that has been dubbed group of death.
The clash against City is the crunchier clash as Wenger could even had rested Sagna for the Napoli clash if he was fit. How then would Arsenal solve the right back conundrum against their title rivals?
The solutions open to Wenger is to continue with Jenkinson or play Koscielny at right-back while captain Thomas Vermaelen would replace the Frenchman beside Mertesacker at the heart of defence. Doubt if Wenger would want to tinker with a center back partnership that has been solid all season. The center back pairing of Koscielny and Mertesacker has kept attacking threats quiet all season and would be facing maybe the sternest of them all in Aguero and Negredo.
Another reason why I think Wenger will not play Koscielny at right back is the fact that we only have 3 quality centre backs and don’t think he will be so stupid to play all of them against city as if anyone of them gets injured we will be in trouble in the centre of defense.
For Jenkinson if he should keep his place, it will be an opportunity to prove his mettle that he is good enough to replace the Frenchman should he fail to reach a compromise with Arsenal with regards to his contract extension. He didn’t do badly against Everton but City’s wing threats (Nasri, Clichy, Navas, Silva) would certainly be more testy.
As for Sagna, I just hope his hamstring injury doesn’t go the way of Podolski who was initially ruled out for some few weeks but ended up spending months and he even just returned to training, yet to return to the field. We coped with Podolski’s absence well enough because we had decent options to stand in the gap, we don’t have such luxury at the right back position so we cannot afford to have our old war horse out for too long. Get well soon Sagna.