Arsenal’s torrid week has taken a further turn for the worse with the news that their injury crisis shows no signs of abating ahead of their meeting with Premier League title favorites Manchester City on Saturday.
Arsenal’s own championship hopes have been painfully terminated in the space of just four days. A humiliating 6-0 loss to Chelsea followed by a last minute Mathieu Flamini own goal that cost them a victory over Swansea City and leaves them six points adrift of leaders Chelsea and three behind Manchester City, who have played two games less. Thoughts have quickly turned to merely ensuring that they maintain their impressive record of qualifying for the Champions League. After taking on City at the Emirates, the Gunners visit an Everton side who now pose the biggest threat to their hopes of a top-four berth. And Arsenal are set to go into both encounters without the return of any of their major absentees.
Perhaps most worrisome is that one of the players they have missed most, Aaron Ramsey, has suffered yet another setback. The Wales international struck 10 goals from midfield before suffering a thigh injury on Boxing Day. Initially thought to be out for just a few weeks, that became another six weeks when Ramsey suffered a setback on his return to training a month later. Two weeks ago Wenger suggested that Ramsey would be returning right about now, but that prognosis has again been reassessed.
“Ramsey is maybe two weeks [away] maybe,” he said after the draw with Swansea, according to The Independent. “He's had a setback. He's had some scar tissue, then you have to slow down and the tendon is in a sensitive place. You always have to push but not too far."
Speaking on Thursday, Wenger suggested it could be even longer. “Ramsey is progressing well but we need to be patient for a few more weeks,” he explained, according to Arsenal’s official website.
Arsenal’s problems are certainly most keenly felt in midfield, where Jack Wilshere faces at least another three weeks about before he can resume training after fracturing a bone in his foot while on international duty at the start of the month. Mesut Ozil, who injured his hamstring in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League tie with Bayern Munich, remains out for “at least two or three weeks,” Wenger said on Tuesday. Theo Walcott, of course, has already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Abou Diaby is also sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury, but after a year on the sidelines the France international is targeting a return before the end of the season.
"I will take stock with Arsenal medical staff early in April, but I hope to resume collective training sessions very soon," he said last week, reports The Guardian.
“My priorities? Feeling fine and play again before the end of the season. I don't think I will be scared to play. I trust my body. Nowadays I feel strong, but I know coming back to London I will also have some changes. I am watching closely my diet and recovering periods.”
Arsenal also have issues at the back, with both Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal currently ruled out. After suffering a calf problem in the defeat to Chelsea, Koscielny will be “out for a while,” according to Wenger when speaking after the Swansea match. There is at least some better news regarding left-back Monreal.
“Monreal should be the first one back in training because he is just starting to run in the next few days,” Wenger said ahead of Arsenal’s attempt to restore some pride and confidence against Manchester City at the Emirates.