Arsenal manager Unai Emery is facing a defensive crisis ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League clash with Portuguese Super League giants Sporting Lisbon on Thursday evening.
Sporting Lisbon host the North Londoners in a Europa League meeting in Group E and Unai Emery will certainly be without key defenders for the game.
The Spaniard is expected to make several changes from the side that defeated Leicester City convincingly on Monday night but the former Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Valencia boss is handicapped in some defensive areas, especially in the left-back position.
Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac missed the last league game against the Foxes because of respective hamstring issues and are almost certain to miss the game against Sporting Lisbon.
Swiss international right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner deputised for them at left-back during Monday’s game against Leicester City but lasted for just 61 minutes after struggling to adapt well to the change of position.
The Swiss captain is expected to switch back to his customary right-back position for the Sporting Lisbon leaving Unai Emery with the conundrum of who will take his place at left-back with Monreal and Kolasinac out.
Unai Emery is likely to turn to young midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles who’s just returning from an injury sustained during Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Manchester City.
He has previously played in the position and even started the City game in that role before going off with an injury.