Massive blow for Arsenal as six key players are ruled out of Cardiff clash

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Arsenal have been plunged into yet another defensive injury crisis with just a week left of the transfer window.

As it stands, Arsenal are not close to bringing in a new defender – with the club currently exploring loans deals for two midfielders, Denis Suarez at Barcelona and Christopher Nkunku at Paris Saint Germain.

But those priorities may need to change after what happened during Friday night’s FA Cup fourth round defeat by Manchester United.

Injuries to Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny saw both centre-backs forced off, with Arsenal ending the game with a central defensive pairing of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi.

With games against Cardiff and Manchester City to come in the next week, Emery looks certain to be without four of his best defenders for games that are crucial in terms of Arsenal’s top four hopes.

Sokratis

The centre-back limped off during the first half of the game against Manchester United after a heavy landing on his left ankle.

Sokratis is due to have a scan over the weekend to determine the extent of the damage, but it looks highly unlikely that he will be able to feature against Cardiff or Manchester City.

Laurent Koscielny

The Arsenal skipper was left in agony against Manchester United after being kicked in the face by Romelu Lukaku while he was lying on the floor.

The impact left the centre-back bleeding from around the ear and after being treated on the pitch for close to 10 minutes, he was eventually replaced and had to be taken to hospital amid fears he had fractured his jaw.

If Arsenal’s worst fears about a potential fracture are confirmed, the club captain could be absent for several weeks.

Koscielny’s injury has come as a major blow as the defender has only just started to find his top form following his long lay off after Achilles surgery.

Hector Bellerin

Arsenal’s right-back has been ruled out for up to nine months after rupturing the cruciate ligament in his left knee against Chelsea last weekend.

The Spaniard had surgery during the week and will now start his long rehabilitation process.

Bellerin had only just returned from a calf problem that had sidelined him for five weeks.

Rob Holding

Arsenal’s impressive young English centre-back was enjoying a fine season before he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The incident happened during the Premier League game against Manchester United in December and has ruled him out for the rest of the season as well as the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

There is a possibility that Mkhitaryan could come into contention for the trip to Manchester City next Sunday, although it is unlikely.

The Armenia international has just started light training again after he fractured a metatarsal during the League Cup defeat by Tottenham.

He has yet to start full contact training, however, and will definitely not be involved against Cardiff.

A more likely return date for the attacker is against Huddersfield Town on February 9.

Danny Welbeck

The England international appears to have played his last game for Arsenal.

Welbeck broke his ankle during the Europa League game against Sporting CP in November and is unlikely to play again this season.

With his contract up in the summer, that means the forward looks set to leave without making another appearance of the Gunners.

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