Tuesday 22 January 2019

Emery insists Koscielny is OK after 'pushing' him to regain fitness

Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery fears that Laurent Koscielny will be unable to play three matches in a week as the defender continues to regain his fitness after missing seven months of action 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 only 90 minutes on 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 meeting with 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 Chelsea, who face Newcastle United later today.

Emery said he expects to rotate his squad for the club's forthcoming cup fixtures. It was announced yesterday that Arsenal's fourth-round FA Cup clash against Manchester United will be on Friday week before they meet BATE Borisov in the Europa League knockout stages next month.

Elsewhere, Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has accused Bayern Munich of being disrespectful and "not professional" after they publicly declared their interest in signing Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the Bayern sporting director, said this week that Hudson-Odoi was a player they "would definitely like to have" after the German champions made a bid of £35 million for the 18-year-old.

Sarri, who wants to keep Hudson-Odoi, said Bayern's comments showed a lack of respect to Chelsea.

"I think that is not professional because they are talking about a player under contract with Chelsea," Sarri said. "So, they did not respect our club. Then I don't know what to say.

"I am happy with the player because he is improving, improving a lot in the defensive phase.

"Now he needs to improve in some movements without the ball, but he is working very well at the moment so I am very happy with the player and would like to have him in the future."

Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas completed his move from Stamford Bridge, signing a three and a half year deal with Monaco, where he will play under former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.

West Ham United v Arsenal

Live, Sky Sports, 12.30

Chelsea v Newcastle, BT Sport, 5.30

Irish Independent

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