Wenger backs Arsenal duo after Mustafi injury

Arsene Wenger says he believes Rob Holding and Gabriel are both capable of impressing for Arsenal in the absence of Shkodran Mustafi.

Defender Mustafi will be sidelined during the all-important Christmas period after suffering a hamstring injury during Saturday’s 3-1 win against Stoke City.

The news is a blow for the Gunners as the German has been a key player for them so far this season.

But boss Wenger says he is confident his defence will remain solid while Mustafi is unavailable.

“It is a challenge, because we have had defensive stability,” Wenger said at a press conference on Monday morning.

“But we have Gabriel and we have Holding who can come in for him and I’m confident that both can do well.

“It’s one of the tests we have, but we have had many tests since the start of the season. Now it’s another challenge.”

Although primarily a centre-back, Gabriel has recently been deployed at right-back because Hector Bellerin was injured and Wenger opted against selecting Carl Jenkinson.

“Gabriel is wanting to do well and hopefully he can,” Wenger said.

“He adapted well at right-back and I think that has helped to lift his confidence.”

Wenger also reiterated that he wants Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to stay at the Emirates Stadium.

It follows speculation about the England international’s future and the Daily Mirror reporting that contract talks have not taken place despite Wenger recently stating that discussions had begun.

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