Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin could be back on the pitch in three weeks after tests showed his knee injury is not as bad as originally feared.
Coquelin limped off in the first half of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday, with manager Arsene Wenger saying after the game he was worried it was a similar injury to last season, when the midfielder missed several months with ligament damage.
But Wenger said on Tuesday that it only appears to be a minor problem this time.
“It should be a short-term injury because the scan was quite positive. I think he will be three weeks out,” Wenger said at his news conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game against Basel.
Arsenal do not have any new injury worries for that game, although Olivier Giroud — who is suspended for the Champions League clash — is still struggling with a toe injury and is a doubt for this weekend’s Premier League match at Burnley.
Coquelin’s injury paves the way for Granit Xhaka to assume a starting role in central midfield after having to settle for sitting on the bench in the Gunners’ recent games.
And Wenger all but confirmed that the Switzerland international will start on Wednesday by saying that his summer signing will come up against his brother Taulant, who plays for Basel.
“Xhaka plays against Xhaka tomorrow. So it’s a family job basically,” Wenger said.
The French coach added that he was relieved to have Coquelin back shortly, having seen his squad stretched by a number of long-term absences last season.
“It’s positive because last year during this period we got a few long-term injuries and it was a handicap in our season. Because after you play always the same players, and you lose a little bit your edge physically,” Wenger said. “We have a compact squad but of top quality so to keep everybody together is a big plus.”