Football

Arsenal news: Gunners face centre-back crisis at Southampton as both Sokratis & Skhodran Mustafi get bans



Unai Emery is about to find himself short of defensive options after seeing two experienced stars pick up yellow cards against Huddersfield

Arsenal have been handed a defensive selection headache after seeing Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi pick up yellow cards which leave them facing a ban.

Both men headed into a Premier League clash with Huddersfield sat on four cautions for the season.

They were to pick up another booking apiece against the Terriers, meaning that they must now serve suspensions.

Sokratis saw a card flashed in his direction during the 39th minute of a keenly-fought clash at Emirates Stadium, with the Greek defender sanctioned for flying into a challenge on Jonathan Hogg.

Mustafi then followed him into the book in first-half stoppage-time.

The German went down inside the box and looked expectantly towards the referee hoping to see a penalty awarded.

The whistle did go, but only to pull him up for simulation and for another yellow to be shown.

Premier League rules stipulate that any player reaching five bookings must serve a one-match ban.

That means Unai Emery is about to be without Sokratis and Mustafi for a meeting with Southampton on December 16.

Arsenal have a Europa League clash with Qarabag to take in before then, and both men will be available for that fixture.

The Gunners may, however, take the opportunity to experiment before being forced into changes to their Premier League plans.

Emery faces something of a selection poser against the Saints with so many players unavailable.

Rob Holding has picked up a season-ending injury, so he joins Sokratis and Mustafi on the sidelines.

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Laurent Koscielny is back in contention, having made the bench against Huddersfield, but he has been out since May with an Achilles problem.

Nacho Monreal is another who has only recently returned to full fitness, but he could slot in at centre-half if required.

Carl Jenkinson, who has not made a Premier League appearance for Arsenal since November 2016, could also be drafted in and Ainsley Maitland-Niles provides another option.



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