Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that his side could see the injury comeback of two of his senior players against Middlesbrough on Monday night.
The Gunners have endured a tough spell in the Premier League in recent months, and their run of five losses in eight games have seen them fall seven points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League place.
Standing skipper Laurent Koscielny was substituted with an Achilles problem midway through the 2-2 draw against Manchester City, and this had seen Gabriel take over his position, which he fulfilled with promise versus West Ham United (3-0 win) a few days later.
However, the Brazilian was found short against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park as he failed to form a decent central defensive partnership alongside Shkodran Mustafi, who has, in turn, struggled to prove his credentials in recent times.
Koscielny’s return would be a welcome sign for Wenger, who will want to keep his defence tight against Boro despite their poor goalscoring record over the course of the season.
Meanwhile, Wenger also revealed that goalkeeper Petr Cech could be back in the mix to replace Damian Martinez, who had an awful time in south London in the previous league outing.
“From the last game, I believe that we have a chance of getting Petr Cech back in the squad. Laurent Koscielny is joining in today," he was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.
The Frenchman did nevertheless have some bad news on the injury front with backup shot-stopper David Ospina and forward Lucas Perez still on the sidelines, he added: “Ospina and Perez are still out."
Arsenal have never finished below the top-four positions in the Arsene Wenger era, and the 67-year-old admits that his side face a tough challenge of achieving the feat with just eight games to play.