Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that centre-back Shkodran Mustafi might be sidelined for minimum three weeks due to a hamstring strain he picked during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Stoke City.
Mustafi had no choice but to leave the pitch after only 25 minutes at the Emirates, giving a massive injury blow to the in-form Gunners ahead of the busy Christmas period.
The German defender formed an excellent partnership with Laurent Koscielny since his £35 million summer transfer from Valencia, but Arsenal will now have to strengthen their backline without him for several crucial league fixtures, including next weekend’s challenge against Manchester City.
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“It’s a bad one,” Wenger said, when speaking about the German’s hamstring strain. “The minimum [layoff] is 21 days. That means he’ll have a nice Christmas.”
Mustafi was given a much-needed rest in Arsenal’s midweek Champions League match at Basel, and Wenger confirmed that he had been carrying a slight knock ahead of that game as well, but was cleared by the medical team ahead of Saturday’s league fixture.
“He had nothing. I would not have played him today if he had [an injury],” Wenger said. “Even he wanted to play in Basel, because he said, ‘No it’s nothing,’ and he was completely cleared. I checked three times, there was no problem before. I don’t know why it happened. But it looks a good hamstring strain.”
Mustafi was replaced by the returning Hector Bellerin against Stoke, with Gabriel Paulista switching back to his natural centre-back role after starting the game at right-back. Gabriel’s form has been really good in recent games, but losing Mustafi still disrupts what has been a rock solid defensive unit for Arsene Wenger.