Boss Forced Into Using Midfielder
Arsenal boss Unai Emery admitted that the club’s injury situation forced him to play Granit Xhaka as left-back in last night’s Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon.
First-choice Nacho Monreal is injured as his nominal deputy Sead Kolasinac. Ainsley Maitland-Niles can also play at left-back but he is also returning from injury. Right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner has also been used in that position and the Gunners are being tipped to dip in the transfer market particularly as Monreal will be 33 in February.
Ajax’s Argentina international left-back Nicolas Tagliafico is the latest name to be linked.
Emery explained the situation to BT Sport.
“We have now two left-backs injuries, Kolasinac and Nacho . We can use maybe Lichtsteiner as a left-back or another thing we are trying is playing with Xhaka.
“They have quality with the left foot to progress with the passes and I want to try this option.”
The move worked. Arsenal defeated Sporting 1-0 thanks to a late Danny Welbeck goal in what was a somewhat lacklustre performance by the side. But the result maintained the Gunners’ 100 percent start in the Europa League and it extended their current run to 11 wins on the trot.