Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gunners suffer Cazorla setback

Santi Cazorla will be out of contention for Arsenal for the next three months
Santi Cazorla will be out of contention for Arsenal for the next three months

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal have suffered a huge blow to their Premier League title hopes after it was confirmed that their midfield playmaker Santi Cazorla will miss the next three months following ankle surgery.

Arsenal's win ratio has plummeted whenever Cazorla has been out of the team and, after hoping that his injury would heal with rest, the club have now accepted that surgery is the best option.

The plantaris tendon on Cazorla's right lower leg became inflamed in the Champions League match with Ludogorets on October 19 and he has been unable to train since. He will travel to Sweden next week for the operation and, with his contract up at the end of the season, there is added uncertainty over his future.

Wenger still has four central midfield options in Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny, but none of the combinations tried has provided Arsenal with the same rhythm as when Cazorla is in the team.

There is better news concerning England striker Danny Welbeck, who has resumed training and is targeting a comeback before the end of the year after knee surgery.

Welbeck was ruled out for around nine months in May, but is ahead of schedule and should return to full training this month.

Given the severity of the injury - he suffered "significant cartilage damage" against Manchester City - the likelihood is that he will be reintroduced slowly in the new year.

Olivier Giroud is a major doubt for tomorrow's match against West Ham because of a groin injury.

Alexis Sanchez is likely to start as the main striker.

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