Arsenal’s injury problems have deepened once more, with Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta both set to miss the next three months. Hindered throughout the first half of the season by a series of absences, Arsene Wenger was relishing getting close to a fully fit squad back available as Arsenal look to make up ground in the battle for a Champions League place. But against Stoke City at the weekend, one of the men only recently back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Debuchy, suffered a dislocated shoulder that is set to again leave Arsenal short on defensive options.
“Mathieu had a surgery on his right shoulder following the injury on Sunday,” Wenger said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “It's very unfortunate for Mathieu, it's unbelievable because he's had two surgeries in the same season. He just came back, he played seven games and he's out again. I count three months out for Mathieu because contact will be a problem for the shoulder.”
Debuchy, signed last summer from Newcastle United, has filled in at center-back as well as his regular right-back role since returning from an ankle injury last month. His absence will now put renewed responsibility on the shoulders of teenagers Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin to fill the void. The extent of Debuchy’s injury is not the only bad news Arsenal have received ahead of their heavyweight clash at champions Manchester City on Sunday. Arteta, who has suffered a number of injuries this season and has already been out since the end of November with an ankle problem, has now also had to undergo surgery, ruling him out until the closing weeks of the campaign.
“Mikel has had surgery which went well,” Wenger told Arsenal.com. “I have just seen him, he is back with us at the training ground. He had a limited mobility in his ankle and some persistent inflammation that had an impact on his calf. That meant we had to make the decision to have surgery and it's a proper solution which gives him the best chance to recover.”
Arteta’s continued unavailability in the short term is likely to mean that Francis Coquelin continues in the side against Manchester City, although Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey returned to the substitute’s bench against Stoke. Jack Wilshere also remains out until at least next month with his latest ankle problem, while Abou Diaby continues to have his latest hopes of a comeback put on a hold by a calf problem. And Wenger has revealed that his fresh injury problems have increased his desire to bring “one or two players in” during the January transfer window.
Arsenal have other concerns heading into the weekend. Former Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck is “not ready yet,” according to Wenger, to return from a thigh problem that has kept him on the sidelines for three weeks. Kieran Gibbs, meanwhile, remains a doubt to return from a heel injury at the Etihad stadium, although the England left-back is now nearing full fitness.
“Kieran Gibbs will be training again with the squad on Friday and we will see how he goes from there,” Wenger said. “His news is positive.”