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Koscielny nearing return for Arsenal

Portsmouth v Arsenal U21 - Checkatrade Trophy

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal battles for possession with Brett Pitman of Portsmouth during the Checkatrade Trophy match between Portsmouth and Arsenal U21 at Fratton Park on December 04, 2018 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

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Unai Emery’s backline could receive a massive boost this weekend.

Arsenal provided a fitness update for defender Laurent Koscielny, who is nearing a comeback from a devastating Achilles injury last May. The club said that Koscielny played 85 minutes for Arsenal’s reserve side in a 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth, following a 45-minute showing a week earlier against Derby.

While Koscielny has been ruled out of tonight’s Arsenal match against Manchester United, the Gunners website said he would be reassessed before Saturday’s game against Huddersfield.

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Koscielny’s earlier-than-anticipated return comes at an important time for the Gunners. Unai Emery’s side has broken back into the top four, but defensively the squad still has some struggles. Shkodran Mustafi was subbed off at halftime in Arsenal’s 4-2 derby day win over Tottenham, while Rob Holding was whistled for a foul in the box on Heung-min Son.

Bringing Koscielny in can provide extra depth to a fatigued backline, as well as put more pressure on the starters so far this season to play better, otherwise they’ll be watching the match from the bench.