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Arsenal are facing mounting problems at left-back after Ainsley Maitland-Niles limped out of Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Emirates.
With Sead Kolasnic and Nacho Monreal already unavailable, Maitland-Niles was deployed on the left side of the back four yesterday having played in the unfamiliar position several times last season under Arsene Wenger.
The 20-year-old was being given a tough time by Kyle Walker down the flank before picking up an untimely injury following a clash with the England international midway through the first half.
Maitland-Niles tried to continue after receiving some treatment from the club doctors at the side of the pitch but he eventually limped off minutes later to be replaced by the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Speaking after the disappointing 2-0 defeat, boss Unai Emery gave reporters a brief update to say Maitland-Niles would be assessed by the medics over the coming days but he’s hoping Monreal will be available for the trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea this coming weekend.
Emery told Arsenal.com:
on Ainsley Maitland-Niles…
Today we are going to do the medical analysis with the doctor. Nacho is starting with the group, working yesterday and maybe he can come in, maybe, for the next match. I think every day is important to know how they are.
It will be another blow if Maitland-Niles is ruled out for any significant period and it sounds like he’s highly unlikely to be available to take on Chelsea as Emery is already praying Monreal is fit.
The Spaniard didn’t feature in pre-season due to a knee injury that he picked up at the World Cup and only returned to training at the end of last week so he’s facing a race against time to prove his fitness ahead of the Chelsea game.
If Monreal and Maitland-Niles are both ruled out of the trip to Stamford Bridge then I think we’ll see Lichtsteiner start at left-back, which wouldn’t be ideal against the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro.