Emery says Koscielny still needs time
Unai Emery, the Arsenal head coach, fears that Laurent Koscielny will be unable to play three matches in a week as the defender continues to regain his fitness following his long injury absence last year.
Emery admitted that the club had to “push” Koscielny in his comeback due to the series of defensive injuries that have plagued the side in recent weeks.
Koscielny, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in May, has played for 90 minutes on only two occasions this season, in the 3-2 defeat by Southampton and the 4-1 win over Fulham on New Year’s Day.
The 33-year-old missed last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Blackpool with a back spasm, but Emery said he would be available for the away game against West Ham United today.
“He is training well, and he is OK,” Emery said. “We pushed him to play after his injuries because we needed him in some matches. It’s not easy for him to play three matches in one week. He was playing three matches during the week, but not 90 minutes each match. Little by little, Koscielny is feeling better, and he can play consistently in the next matches.
“This week is perfect for everybody. We can use the players in the match on Saturday after a week of rest. The players have been recovering for this match.”
Emery has been helped by the return to full training of Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi and Hector Bellerin. Mesut Ozil will also be available after missing the last three matches with a knee injury.
Arsenal go into their meeting with West Ham knowing that a win would take them level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, who face Newcastle United later today.
Meanwhile, Emery said he expects to rotate his squad for the club’s forthcoming cup fixtures, adding that “You have to balance the players”.
Arsenal will play Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup this month before they meet BATE Borisov in the Europa League knockout stages next month.