Arsenal rocked by injury crisis with Mari set to miss rest of season

The Gunners defender suffered ankle ligament damage during Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City

Arsenal have been rocked by a centre-back crisis ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton – with Pablo Mari expected to miss the remainder of the season.

The Spanish defender was injured during the first half of Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City and is expected to be out for several weeks with damaged ankle ligaments.

Arsenal fear the injury means Mari will not play again before the end of the campaign and his absence leaves Mikel Arteta desperately short of options in the centre of his defence.

David Luiz is unavailable to face Brighton due to suspension following his red card against Manchester City and Sokratis is still struggling with a thigh injury picked up in training.

Calum Chambers, meanwhile, remains sidelined having ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee earlier this year and Cedric Soares is expected to miss out again due to a broken nose.

That means Shkodran Mustafi could be partnered by Rob Holding at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, unless Arteta opts to use Kieran Tierney as a makeshift centre-back.

Holding, who returned from a year out due to a cruciate knee injury in September, has featured just three times under Arteta – with his only start coming in the 1-0 victory against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round.

The 24-year-old has struggled to regain his top form since his return to fitness and there have been suggestions he could be sold in the summer, but Arteta has praised the former Bolton star in the past.

“He is a very interesting player, very focused, very determined, very willing to learn,” Arsenal’s head coach said in January. “Obviously the fact he has been out for such a long time, he is lacking competition now and lacking that rhythm. We need to try to give him as much as possible to help him.

“There were some moments that he looked really, really good. He is a player that is going to be very valuable for us.”

In midfield, Arsenal are also set to be without Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira for Saturday’s game against the Seagulls.

Xhaka suffered an ankle injury inside the first five minutes at Manchester City and Torreira is still on his way back from the fractured leg he sustained during the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Portsmouth.

Dani Ceballos, who started on the bench at the Etihad, is likely to come in to partner Matteo Guendouzi, although Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another option for Arteta.

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