Per Mertesacker ruled out of Arsenal’s derby against Chelsea

Per Mertesacker looks set to be ruled out of Arsenal’s derby against Chelsea although the defender has escaped any serious ankle ligament damage.

Mertesacker, captain during the long absence of Mikel Arteta, limped off during the second half of the FA Cup semi-final against Reading at Wembley on Saturday.

There were fears of a serious injury for the 6ft 6in German after he twisted the joint but subsequent scans have shown it is a minor sprain.

He is not expected to be fit in time for Sunday, however, and likely to be replaced at centre-half by Gabriel Paulista, who has started three times in the Barclays Premier League since he was signed in January from Villarreal.

Chelsea come into the match with a 10-point lead over their London rivals and will need to capitulate in spectacular fashion to not take the Premier League title.

Second-placed Arsenal, on 66 points, lead Manchester United on 65 and Manchester City on 64.

Credit: Matt Lawless/SportsMail