Arsene Wenger admits he has 'given a bit up' on predicting Santi Cazorla's fitness
Arsene Wenger has admitted that he has “given a bit up” on predicting Santi Cazorla’s fitness but forecast that his hugely influential midfielder will just return in time for Arsenal's potentially pivotal festive sequence of matches.
Cazorla has seen a specialist over his inflamed Achilles tendon and, while Wenger does not regard the injury as serious, it is a nagging complaint that means he is not expected to re-join training for another fortnight.
Wenger is then allowing another two weeks for his player to be fully match fit, which would mean him missing important away games at West Ham United, Everton and Manchester City but returning to face West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day.
“Look, I've given a bit up on that,” said Wenger. “I don't know how far he is. He looks like he's making progress but, as long as the player is not in full-time training with the squad, it's difficult to set targets. It's not a big injury that will harm his future. My gut feeling is it will be short, two weeks, but when a player comes back to full training it still takes two weeks for a player to be ready again.”
Wenger has also defended his handling of Alexis Sanchez in playing him for the full 90 minutes against Manchester United on Saturday less then 48 hours after he had returned from Chile. Sanchez had suffered a small hamstring tear while on international duty during the previous week.
“He had a bit of tightness in his hamstring, but he was checked before the game,” said Wenger. “I follow the instructions of the medical staff and the player. After, I make a decision. I have never forced anyone to play in my life. I've never demanded anyone should be injected to play. The suggestions I have forced him to play are wrong, completely wrong. Sanchez was not overloaded with games before United.”
Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott both missed training this morning ahead of playing Paris St Germain in the Champions League tomorrow but were simply granted an additional recovery day after the 1-1 draw at United and will be included in the squad.
Mathieu Debuchy is also back training with the first-team and, while tomorrow’s game will come too soon, Wenger is adamant that he has a future and can compete with both Hector Bellerin and Carl Jenkinson for the right-back position.
“I don't think I can throw him into the intensity of a Champions League game at the moment, because he's had a few set-backs,” said Wenger. “Arsenal is one of the 10 biggest clubs in the world. You can't think you have no competition. We are in a highly competitive world and you have to accept it. We cannot be pampered, and think we just have the right to be there. It's what we love and go for. Mathieu Debuchy is a great competitor and has a fantastic mentality, so he will give Bellerin a big challenge when he is fit.”