During his weekly pre-match press conference Arsene Wenger effectively ruled out Olivier Giroud for the North London Derby this weekend, but said that Shkodran Mustafi is on the brink of recovering from his injury which should help ease the miniature injury crisis the manager was suddenly facing in his back line.
Mustafi, along with Danny Welbeck, will undergo a final test of their fitness during tomorrow’s training but it’s assumed the public won’t know the extent of how well he performs until the lineups are finalized for Saturday’s match. How the German defender’s health is ultimately assessed will be of particular interest to Wenger as he confirmed Laurent Koscielny is continuing to struggle with an Achilles problem that manifested following the 90 minutes he logged for France last week in their 2-0 victory over Wales. If Mustafi does not pass his fitness test tomorrow, Wenger will have to turn to one of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, or a creative option such as Mathieu Debuchy or Francis Coquelin, to fill in at center back.
If Welbeck is deemed healthy enough to suit up this weekend he’ll effectively take the place of Giroud on the bench. The bigger story, though, is that one of Alexander Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, and Alex Iwobi will probably sit next to Welbeck to start the match. We’ll be finding out who that is in less than 48 hours.