Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the club are facing a fitness battle with three first-team players ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid.
The Gunners played a much-changed lineup during their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend and one among the players involved was Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who had just recovered from a medial knee ligament injury.
Mkhitaryan had a promising performance against his former employers as he scored early in the second half but his appearance could not last the entire 90 minutes after he picked up a knock on the same knee previously injured.
Speaking after the game, Wenger confirmed that the 29-year-old has picked up a minor recurrence of his knee problem and he is likely to be assessed alongside David Ospina and Alex Iwobi, who sustained their own niggles during the match.
He said: “Mkhitaryan I took off because he had a little knock on his knee again, the same thing, just looking at him in the dressing room. Ospina has a rib problem and Alex Iwobi has a hamstring problem.”
Whilst Ospina and Iwobi could be easily replaced in the starting lineup and the probable absence of Mkhitaryan would undoubtedly be a huge setback for the Madrid trip, where they must find the scoresheet.
A lack of defensive concentration witnessed the Gunners concede a goal in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium last week and they are now in a position where they have to score at least once in order to keep the tie alive.
This is, however, easier said than done against an Atleti side, who have kept 11 consecutive clean sheets at home, though arch-rivals Chelsea have previously shown the way by scoring twice at the Wanda Metropolitano in September.
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