Arsenal’s Champions League qualifying visit to Besiktas’ Vodaphone Arena will be all the tougher for arriving at a time when their defensive options are compromised.
Kieran Gibbs is expected to miss out due to an injury sustained against Crystal Palace, while Laurent Koscielny’s fitness is below the optimum after taking a knock in the same fixture.
The Frenchman’s niggle in particular is problematic, with both Thomas Vermaelen and trustworthy part-time centre-half Bacary Sagna allowed to leave this summer.
Per Mertesacker, meanwhile, is understood to be ready to play, but still around a week away from match fitness.
As a result, backing Besiktas to find the net in Istanbul for the 14th time in their last 15 competitive home games looks a worthy wager at 53/100.
Calum Chambers has looked assured in his nascent career at centre-half, but getting roasted for pace by Edin Dzeko – who’d be lucky to get into the Jamaican bobsleigh team, let alone the island’s track outfit – in the Community Shield, suggests he still has plenty to learn.
Having trained with the Gunners today, Koscielny is likely to be available for selection barring an adverse reaction to his exertions.
However, being below full fitness in nurse-maiding the youngster is far ideal.
The Southampton alumnus’ potential is vast yet, alongside a more experienced chaperone whose condition is some way south of 100 per cent, the potential for harsh lessons on his first venture into continental competition is bigger.
As a result of Koscielny’s ability to participate in Monday manoeuvres, Mertesacker was not required to take part.
However, were any of the Gunners other defenders to sustain an injury during the game in Turkey it’s likely Arsene Wenger would have to press one of his midfielders or forwards into auxiliary action – our vote is for Yaya Sanogo.