Laurent Koscielny is set to miss Arsenal's crunch clash with Chelsea but his knee injury is not as bad as initially feared, Goal understands.
The defender was carried off on a stretcher with a deep laceration to the knee after being hurt trying to prevent Manchester City's second goal in the Gunners' 6-3 defeat at Etihad Stadium last Saturday.
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It was feared Koscielny would be out for up to three weeks and could miss Arsenal's entire festive programme, which features league fixtures against Chelsea, West Ham, Newcastle and Cardiff City.
The injury is believed to have been complicated by the proximity of the wound to the knee joint, with Arsenal's medics concerned that slight movement would dislodge any stitches.
However, sources have said that the knee was immobilised during a delicate procedure this week and the cut has now been stitched up.
Koscielny is set to miss Monday's showdown against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium and is doubtful for the Boxing Day trip to West Ham but he should play some part in Arsenal's congested holiday programme.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is expected to deputise for the Frenchman against Chelsea as Arsene Wenger is forced to break up the hugely successful Koscielny-Per Mertesacker partnership, which has been the bedrock of Arsenal's title challenge this season.