Arsenal could end World Cup winner's absence to cope with ex-Chelsea striker

Per Mertesacker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could recall Per Mertesacker for the Champions League qualifying tie with Besiktas on Tuesday.

The Gunners kicked off the new season with a tight 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, as goals from Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey helped Arsene Wenger's men recover from going a goal down to Brede Hangeland's first half header.

Whilst most teams now have a week off until their next fixture, Arsenal don't have such a luxury. Instead, the Gunners now head off to Turkey in order to face Besiktas in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying tie, with a group stage place on the line.

The aforementioned Koscielny had been a doubt for the game with an Achilles problem, which would have left Arsenal even shorter in the centre of defence before he was seen in training today. The £15m sale of Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen means there is little depth behind Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, with the latter given and extended break following his part in Germany's World Cup win.

The 29-year-old was replaced by Calum Chambers in the Arsenal starting XI at weekend, but with concerns over Koscielny, Wenger has confirmed that Mertesacker could make an early return from his rest - ahead of international team mates Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski.

"We will assess Koscielny on Monday," Wenger said. "If he's fit and capable to play, we play him. It was our plan to bring the Germans back for Everton (on Saturday). But in case of emergency I will take Mertesacker. Ideally he would need one more week preparation but he's willing to play, no problem. We are a bit short."

Wenger's concern over his defensive options could be a direct hint that he's slightly concerned over the threat of Besiktas striker Demba Ba, who recently joined the club from Chelsea. The Senegalese hitman's physicality could be too much for the likes of Koscielny or Chambers to handle, and knowing that he could call upon Mertesacker to deal with ba would be a much needed boost given that the club have still yet to sign another centre back.

 

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