Monreal adds to Arsenal's defensive headache but Emery hoping for positive injury news

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The Gunners saw their versatile Spaniard forced off against Burnley but his knock is not thought to be serious and others are edging closer to fitness

Unai Emery hopes the knock picked up by Nacho Monreal against Burnley is “not big”, with Arsenal seeing defensive injury problems stack up.

The Gunners have seen their options at the back decimated over recent weeks, forcing them to get creative with team selections.

With the games coming thick and fast over the festive period, the last thing they needed was to see another player limp out of Premier League action.

That, though, is precisely what happened against the Clarets when Monreal was forced off in the 37th minute.

Emery claims that was a precautionary call on his part, but concedes that the versatile Spaniard is nursing a nagging complaint.

He told reporters after a 3-1 victory for the Gunners at Emirates Stadium: “It’s starting to be a muscular problem and we decided to change and not take more risks with him. But I hope it’s not big and I hope he can be with us next week.”

Arsenal will be back in action on Boxing Day away at Brighton, with Emery hoping to see his options bolstered for that contest even if Monreal does not make it.

Unai Emery Arsenal 05122018

He added: “I don’t know if he can play at Brighton, but we can play, I think, [Laurent] Koscielny.

“Also [Shkodran] Mustafi is close to coming with us. We can take more injuries but we can also recover more players.”

One of those who has slotted into the backline of late is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, as cover for Hector Bellerin at right-back, with the youngster admitting that he found the going tough during a physical battle with Burnley.

He told Arsenal Player: “It’s always nice to get a win in front of the fans.

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“Especially after losing two games in a row, it’s nice to be back to winning ways. It was a scrappy game, but I think the boys dug deep and we got enough goals to secure the win.

“I found the game very tough. Every game is tough, it’s just about the mindset, the manager has always urged us to press and I think we carried that out pretty well today. I was just trying to encourage the boys as I go on and I’m just grateful to be out there.

“The games [against Southampton and Tottenham] were over, there was nothing we could do about the last two games, so we focused on this one and look at the result today.”

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