​Arsenal have been handed a boost for the forthcoming Christmas period, as Unai Emery has confirmed that Laurent Koscielny could rmake a return to the first team as early as next week's Europa League tie with Qarabag.


Speaking after the 2-2 draw with Manchester United during the week, Emery told reporters that the defender, who hasn't played since May after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Atletico Madrid, is verging on a first-team return. 

Portsmouth v Arsenal U21 - Checkatrade Trophy

"Laurent is very close to playing for us," he said, as quoted by the club's ​official website"He played two matches for the under-23s - the last one was on Tuesday. 


"I don’t know if Saturday is a possibility, but we’re thinking the Europa League game against Qarabag could be a good match for him."


Koscielny's return seems to come in the nick of time, as ​Arsenal face setbacks with fresh injuries to Rob Holding and Aaron Ramsey - with the former suffering from what is expected to be a long layoff after limping off against ​United


"The worst for us today was the news with Rob Holding," Emery added. 


"We are going to wait for what the doctor tells us but it is maybe a big injury. We are going to wait, it is his knee. The other is Aaron Ramsey, but it is a small injury with him.

Manchester United v Arsenal FC - Premier League

"After the two injuries, every player played with good commitment and mentality to keep the performance going in a difficult moment, and we could not control the game like we wanted for the 90 minutes, but for the second half it gives us confidence."