By Joe Nelson
Laurent Koscielny will play no part in Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Liverpool on Saturday, Arsene Wenger confirmed on Friday.
The Gunners boss told the media at his pre-match press conference that the France Euro 2016 star is “not ready” and is “out” of the game against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Koscielny was an integral part of the team that were runners-up in the summer and only returned to pre-season training at the start of the week following an extended break.
“We have lost three centre backs because Laurent Koscielny is also not ready and out of the game but I believe we are equipped to do well,” Wenger said, as quoted by the Mirror live press conference blog.
The Premier League’s longest serving manager also shed some more light on the injuries to his other senior centre-backs, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista.
“Per Mertesacker is out for four months and Gabriel six to eight weeks, which is a bit better than expected because he doesn’t need surgery,” Wenger said, as quoted by the Mirror.
“He ruptured his ankle ligament. At the start we thought it could be four months.”
The injury sustained to Gabriel means that Wenger will is expected to start new-boy Rob Holding at the heart of the defence alongside fellow England under-21 international Calum Chambers, although there remains the possibility that midfield enforcer Francis Coquelin could drop back and play as an emergency defender.
Despite Holding’s lack of experience, Wenger is adamant he is ready for the challenge.
“He has played in the Championship so that is a good experience, to deal with one level higher,” Wenger said, as quoted by the Mirror.
In more Arsenal team news, the Gunners have had another bid rejected in their pursuit of a main defensive target.