Arsenal have confirmed the absence of both David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos for their Premier League curtain-raiser at Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
The north London outfit are already without three central defenders in Pablo Mari, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers due to injuries picked up last season.
It has now been confirmed that David Luiz will miss the season opener with a neck spasm while Sokratis is also unavailable after sustaining a mild strain to his right calf in training.
Luiz has been a crucial performer at the heart of the defence for the Gunners and The Athletic has recently revealed that the delicate nature of the issue could see him sidelined for around six weeks.
That would certainly be a definite blow for the north London club, considering both William Saliba and summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes are yet to get a crack at Premier League football.
A back three worked with good effect for manager Mikel Arteta during the closing months of the previous season as the club went on to win the FA Cup final against Chelsea to pick up a record 14th trophy.
The Spaniard stuck with the same formation for the Community Shield triumph over Liverpool a couple of weeks ago and it will be interesting to see how the Gunners line up against the Cottagers on the road.
Rob Holding is currently the only fit central defender with Premier League experience. In case of a back three, he should be accompanied by left-back Kieran Tierney while one of Saliba or Gabriel could make their debut.
Saliba has a better chance of starting the game ahead of Gabriel, given he has been with the team throughout pre-season unlike the Brazilian, who had to serve a 14-day quarantine after arriving from France.
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