ARSENAL SUBSTITUTION: Kieran Gibbs replaces Laurent Koscielny who limps off with an injury. (4') 0-1#EFCvAFC— Arsenal.com (@Arsenal) November 28, 2012
UPDATE: Thursday, November 29 at 1:25 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Arsenal just can't keep a handful of its key players healthy all at the same time. According to ESPN, he'll be missing a few weeks with a groin injury:
Koscielny, 27, was replaced by Kieron Gibbs in the fourth minute, and manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the bad news afterwards.
"He has a groin strain. That's usually three weeks," he said.
Per Mertesacker has played well this season, so Koscielny's injury shouldn't hamper the Gunners too much. Still, Arsenal fans will be hoping for a swift recovery to keep the depth on an often-shaky back line intact.
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This could be a big loss for the Gunners. Kieran Gibbs replaced him on Wednesday, but it's still hard to tell how the youngster will do with a full-time starting position.
Also, the move has forced Thomas Vermaelen to move into the center of the defense. Vermaelen is a natural centre-back, but it's still an adjustment that a successful team would rather avoid.
Koscielny isn't the English Premier League's most talented defender, but he's consistent. His strong tackling ability and underrated skill in the air makes him a tough competitor in the defensive third. He does have one goal this season, but attacking isn't his strong suit.
Even though he's slightly inexperienced, he's more of a veteran than Gibbs. Gibbs carries the hype of a top prospect, but he's still young and learning the EPL's nuances.
What's even more worrisome is the next option. Djorou and Miquel are each ahead of Sebastien Squillaci, but none of those players are all that strong.
Aside from a match with West Brom on December 8, Arsenal doesn't face a very difficult schedule in the coming weeks. That should soften the blow of losing Koscielny, but Arsenal is still a team that relies on their defense to win games.
Gibbs can hold his own, and he's certainly talented, but a speedy recovery for Koscielny is in Arsenal's best interest.
Stay tuned for updates.