Unai Emery has confirmed that club captain Laurent Koscielny did not take part in the FA Cup victory over Blackpool due to a back injury, but hopes the Frenchman will be back next week.
Koscielny was due to begin the match but felt some discomfort in his back during the warm up, prompting Emery to cautiously withdraw the defender and hand Carl Jenkinson a rare start.
The Gunners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against their League One counterparts courtesy of a Joe Willock brace and a late Alex Iwobi strike. Following the match, Emery confirmed the injury to Koscielny (quoted by Arsenal’s official website):
“Yes [it’s a back problem]. I hope it’s not bad. He has one week to rest and to work, thinking about the next match against West Ham. I hope he’s going to be OK for the next matches but before the match, he felt some pain in his back.
“We decided it was better for him to not play. At the moment, with our problems at centre back, it meant we were able to look at different players in different positions.” The Spaniard added.
Koscielny has made five appearances this campaign having only just returned from a lengthy lay-off following an achilles injury he suffered last May, forcing him to miss the World Cup and the start of the season.
💬 “We decided it was better for him to not play.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 6, 2019
Emery will be hoping his captain is available for selection for Arsenal’s trip to West Ham on Saturday lunchtime as the Gunners are currently short of defensive options with Shkodran Mustafi having a slight hamstring injury and Rob Holding being out for the season.
If the Frenchman does not recover in time, Stephan Lichtsteiner could continue at centre-back as he started there to good effect against Blackpool, helping his side to a clean sheet.