As Arsenal try to pick up the pieces from a disastrous run of form at just the wrong time, they will have to battle another rash of injuries. Arsenal went five matches without a win, encompassing a 2-0 home loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 matchup as well as taking just one point from three Premier League matches to drop eight points adrift of leaders Leicester City.
That wretched streak was ended by a comfortable 4-0 win over Hull City in an FA Cup fifth round replay on Tuesday, but it came at some cost. Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel were all forced to exit the field at the KC Stadium. Manager Arsene Wenger said on Thursday that Mertesacker, who suffered a cut near his eye, and Gabriel, who withdrew with a hamstring problem, "are very positive, there is nothing wrong there, they are both good."
The comment suggests that both will be able to take part in Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal at home to Watford. However, the prognosis for Ramsey is less encouraging. "There is a small alert, we don’t know how bad it is," Wenger added.
Ramsey had only come on as a substitute against Hull but would last just 16 minutes due to a thigh injury. Already there have been reports that the Wales midfielder could be sidelined for up to six weeks. Certainly, there will be particular worry, given that Ramsey missed more than three months of action when suffering a thigh injury in late 2013. His latest issue could well mean that he misses the crucial run in to the end of the season as Arsenal attempt to keep alive their hopes of landing a first Premier League title in 12 years.
His absence would also leave Wenger short of options in midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to be out until May with a leg injury suffered in the first leg against Barcelona, while Tomas Rosicky is likely to miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, long-term injury victims Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are not yet ready to return. Wilshere has yet to play this season due to an ankle problem suffered last summer, while Cazorla is still on his way back from a knee injury that has ruled him out since last November.
Although both, along with goalkeeper Petr Cech, who was struck down by a calf injury against Swansea City last week, are on the comeback trail, Wenger confirmed on Thursday that it will be another couple of weeks before they will make their comeback.
"They are all progressing nicely, but this week and next week they have no chance," he said.
It means all three will miss not only the match with Watford, but next Wednesday’s Champions League second leg at Barcelona and a Premier League clash at Everton three days later. For those matches, Arsenal’s midfield options are set to be limited to Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini and Mohamed Elneny.
Fortunately, the quick recovery of Mertesacker and Gabriel means Arsenal should not now face an even more severe paucity of options at center-back. First-choice central defender Laurent Koscielny has been out with a calf injury since the defeat to Manchester United on Feb. 28, and is a doubt to return for Sunday.
"He is not far, he will have tests until Sunday, but it could come too soon," Wenger said. "He has a little chance."