The international break has done little to provide an immediate respite to Arsenal’s injury problems. Already in the midst of yet another injury crisis, Mesut Özil, Laurent Koscielny have all been diagnosed with problems of varying severity while away with their national teams to provide a further headache to manager Arsène Wenger as he prepares his squad for the visit of Hull City on Saturday.
News on Özil has undoubtedly provided the major blow. The German World Cup winner has been ruled out for up to three months with a knee injury, meaning he is unlikely to be seen again in action for the Gunners before the end of the year. While he has been criticized for his performances at the start of the season, the club’s record signing showed his class when moved back to his favored No. 10 role against Aston Villa last month.
A potential replacement for Özil has also been ruled out in recent days. Experienced midfielder Rosicky, who has endured numerous fitness problems during his career, picked up a calf problem in the Czech Republic’s win in Turkey last week and returned to Arsenal before his country’s subsequent Euro 2016 qualifier against Kazakhstan.
“I couldn’t do any sharp movements, I couldn’t sprint,” Rosicky said. “If I tried to play at one tempo, I wouldn’t make any difference for the team. I’ll come back to London and we’ll see. The doctor said I have something swollen between the muscles.”
Arsenal’s numerous options in attacking midfield mean Rosicky has featured sparingly this season, although with Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta still troubled by injury, his latest issue is an untimely one. Both Ramsey and Arteta are not thought to be too far away from returning from hamstring and calf injuries, respectively, but the clash with Hull looks set to come too soon.
Arsenal’s depth is not nearly so strong in defense, making a problem for Koscielny particularly troubling. The French Football Federation revealed that the 29-year-old has been suffering with chronic tendonitis in both of his Achilles tendons for several months, leading them to send the player back to his club. Having come into the season with just six established defenders, Arsenal’s options have already been stretched by a long-term injury to Mathieu Debuchy. If Koscielny is unable to take part against Hull then left-back Nacho Monreal could well move over to take his place, with Calum Chambers also suspended.
Danny Welbeck also picked up a problem while away with his country but his ankle issue is not believed to put his participation at the weekend at risk. Fellow striker Olivier Giroud remains sidelined after ankle surgery, although Wenger stated this week that he was “ahead of schedule” in his rehabilitation.
There is more good news looking forward, with long-time absentees Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry having returned to full training. Walcott has been out of action since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Arsenal’s FA Cup match with Tottenham at the start of January. The England international’s long road back to fitness will now continue with an appearance for Arsenal’s Under-21 team against their Blackburn counterparts on Friday, reports the Daily Telegraph. It is therefore unlikely that he will feature against Hull the following day. Gnabry, also through a knee injury, has not played for Arsenal since March.