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Arsenal Defense Facing Injury Battles Ahead of North London Derby

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Koscielny: A Doubt for Sunday?
Koscielny: A Doubt for Sunday?

Arsenal is preparing for Sunday's massive North London Derby after a disastrous week which saw the Gunners lose by a combined 6-0 to Milan and Sunderland. Most worrisome for Arsenal has been their leaky defense, which has conceded goals at a shockingly high rate. Hurting the team is the injuries, as the depth of the Arsenal defense has been tested.

Off the bat Arsenal got bad news on Per Mertesacker, as the German is out for the season with surgery for his ankle ligament damage. The veteran German had done well to stabilize the Arsenal defense and give them a much needed aerial presence. The loss was compounded though as Laurent Koscielny suffered a knee injury against Milan that kept him out against Sunderland on the weekend. Koscielny is hopeful to return against Spurs, but it will be interesting to see if he has a fitness back to deal with a vaunted Tottenham attack.

Sunday's loss at Sunderland yielded even more defensive woes for Arsenal. Left back Francis Coquelin came off after only 10 minutes with a hamstring problem, and the utility man's status is now in doubt for Sunday. His replacement, Sebastien Squillaci, was very poor in his stead and reacted negatively after being subbed off with an apparent injury. Carl Jenkinson is still suffering from a back injury as well, decreasing the right back depth behind Bacary Sagna

But the healthy corps aren't in great shape either. Kieran Gibbs was completely found out against Milan in his first game back from a groin problem and will be struggling for form ahead of Sunday. Thomas Vermaelen has struggled to return to his top class defending after missing four months with an Achilles injury. Johan Djorou conceded a late penalty as well against Milan as the Swiss International as failed to impress.

All in all, the thin and exposed Arsenal defense provides a tantalizing option for Tottenham. Despite going on the road and only needing a draw to hold serve in the race for a top-3 finish, an attacking approach may be very tempting for Harry Redknapp and Spurs. After the positive results earned by playing a positive 4-4-2 against Newcastle United, don't be surprised if Spurs try to take it to this weakened Arsenal defense.