Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta must make decisions over five Gunners defenders

Arsenal have enjoyed a solid start to the season, losing only one of their six games so far this season.

And Mikel Arteta looks to have fixed the long-running defensive issues that have plagued the Gunners for years.

The addition of central defender Gabriel has been a welcomed one, with the former Lille man hitting the ground running since his summer switch to the Emirates.

Rob Holding has returned from injury and slotted straight back in at the heart of the defence.

And even David Luiz has enjoyed a positive start, putting previous mistakes behind him so far this term.

But what about the five other central defenders at Arteta's disposal?

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Pablo Mari, William Saliba, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are all facing uncertain futures at present.

Saliba was expected to be part of Arteta's first-team plans this season having been handed the No4 shirt following his return from Saint-Etienne this summer.

However, the 19-year-old looks set to be loaned out, as Arteta does not think Saliba is ready for the Premier League – despite the youngster having impressed in the French top flight last term.

As for Mustafi and Sokratis, it looks like the end of the road for their time at Arsenal.

Having been free to find new employers, it seems conceivable that 2014 World Cup winner Mustafi will be left out of Arteta’s squad for the foreseeable.

Mustafi did enjoy a run in Arteta’s starting XI following lockdown, but his prospects have been hindered following the arrival of Gabriel.

Sokratis is another player who clearly does not figure prominently in Arteta’s vision.

That much was clear during the post-lockdown period, when the Greek centre-back appeared as a late substitute in two games, his last start coming against West Ham United in March.

Like Mustafi, Sokratis will be out of contract in 2021 so it seems certain that he has entered the final year of his time with the Gunners, although it is unclear how much football he will actually play before leaving.

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Mari and Chambers have also struggled with injuries of late – but the former looks to have a shot at some gametime under Arteta.

Mari remains sidelined with an injury to his left ankle.

He picked up the problem – which saw damage to his ankle ligaments – in the game with Manchester City back on June 17.

But the Spaniard could be back in action soon.

Chambers is set to return to training after the international break.

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