Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker may force him to name a second choice defence again at Newcastle on Saturday.
France international Koscielny and German World Cup winner Mertesacker both sat out of the 0-0 draw with Liverpool and are doubts for the Premier League trip to St James’ Park.
Koscielny remains with a back problem and Mertesacker has struggled to shake off a sickness bug, so Gabriel and Calum Chambers could continue in Wenger’s back-line.
“Mertesacker is still sick and we will know more about Koscielny today,” Wenger said on Thursday.
“He might have a test on his back and I will certainly know more tomorrow morning. The less likely to be fit is Mertesacker.
“I would like them to be available but that’s part of the season, you can’t complain about that. We like pressure. The biggest pressure in our job is to play without pressure.”
There is more promising news on England forward Danny Welbeck and midfielder Jack Wilshere, both of whom are progressing following knee and leg problems that have prevented them from playing thus far.
“Danny Welbeck is progressing well,” Wenger said. “He should be available, if all goes well, after the international break.
“Jack Wilshere is just behind Welbeck, maybe one week after the international break he will certainly come back into full training.”
Wenger insists he is still doing all he can to add to his squad in the run up to Tuesday’s transfer deadline day but admits it has been a frustrating time for him.
“I am always confident that a last minute situation or solution is available, because the transfer market is especially moving in the last four or five days. At the moment I cannot promise you that,” he said.
“We work very hard, you know I have a team around me who work day and night to find good solutions but at the moment we are not close to signing anyone.
“I am 24 hours available per day, so I am involved in the decision of course.
“We have specific targets but sometimes you get an idea from somebody because you didn’t know that the player you like was available and if you get an opportunity you do it.
“At the moment I cannot say I am very confident because we are not close to signing anybody.”
France Under-21 international Florian Thauvin, a substitute in last week’s draw at Manchester United, could have to settle for a place on the bench again despite scoring and setting up the other three goals on his full debut in a much-changed starting line-up for the midweek League Cup victory over Northampton.
Newcastle, without a victory in the Premier League this season after two draws and a defeat, will be aiming to end a dismal run of seven consecutive losses to Arsenal, a winless streak that stretches back for almost five years.
“There were some good individual performances in midweek and it’s given me plenty to think about in terms of team selection going into the Arsenal game,” Newcastle manager Steve McClaren said.
Netherlands defender Daryl Janmaat is available after missing the trip to Old Trafford through suspension, but McClaren could stick with the back four which earned a clean sheet against Louis van Gaal’s side.