Champions League

Arsenal’s defensive crisis worsens as Champions League looms

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Arsene Wenger has admitted that he may well have to recall Per Mertesacker earlier than planned in order to put out a competitive defence for the upcoming Champions League qualifier against Besiktas.

Arsenal’s German trio were due to be in line for a return against Everton on Saturday – their first match since their World Cup glory – but injuries for Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs, picked up against Crystal Palace, means that the BFG is likely to be called upon.

“I planned to bring the Germans back in contention for Everton but, in case of emergency, I will take Mertesacker to Turkey.

“It’s a bit early for him – ideally he would need one more week preparation but he’s willing to play, no problem. We are a bit short”

Following a summer of serenity, this is unwanted news for both the Arsenal manager and the supporters. The storm clouds which hung over the club 12 months ago have been banished by the FA Cup success and positivity in the transfer market, but a loss away at Besiktas would leave the club on the brink of a Champions League exit prior to the group stages.

The sale of Thomas Vermaelen has left the club with just two recognised centre-backs, and despite impressive performances from Calum Chambers, Arsenal are chronically short at the back.

So in spite of the optimism about the club, there remains a realistic possibility of yet another early-season crisis.

Injuries have once more struck at the worst of occasions, and if Wenger doesn’t address the situation in the transfer market, the blue skies will swiftly turn grey. It appears old habits truly die hard.

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