Arsenal are anxiously awaiting news on the fitness of Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere ahead of their trip to take on Aston Villa on Saturday. Debuchy will definitely miss the contest against the side currently second in the Premier League table, after suffering an ankle injury in last weekend’s draw with Manchester City. Ahead of the defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that it was that the problem was serious. “Debuchy is out for a longer period, but we don't know [how long he will be out for yet],” he said.
It will only be on Friday that Arsenal will discover just how serious the problem is. “No fracture but one broken ligament... I have to wait until Friday in order to know if I must have surgery,” Debuchy wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
Debuchy’s injury provides real concern for Arsenal. Wenger decided to finish the transfer window with just six established first-team defenders -- including 19-year-old arrival from Southampton Calum Chambers, who was expected to cover for center-back duo Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as well as right-back Debuchy. With Chambers absent with tonsillitis and Nacho Monreal missing with a back injury in Dortmund, teenager Hector Bellerin was called upon to make his full debut for the club. Monreal and Chambers are expected to be available to take on Aston Villa, but Arsenal will remain in a precarious and far from ideal situation until Debuchy’s return.
That is not the only concern for Wenger as he prepares a team to try and secure Arsenal’s first win since the opening day of the season against Crystal Palace. Wilshere turned his ankle against Dortmund, though had to play on with Arsenal having used all their substitutes. It is the latest in a long line of ankle problems for the midfielder, and is to the same ankle as an injury in 2011 that forced him to miss more than a year of action. While this latest incident does not appear nearly as serious and Wilshere is said by reports to be “optimistic,” Wenger is hesitant about making any predictions.
“Jack Wilshere has turned his ankle, it's difficult to say how bad it is because I am a bit cautious, normally it's not very bad but because of his history I'm a bit cautious,” he said after the match with Dortmund.
Wenger’s comments suggest that Wilshere is unlikely to be risked at Villa Park. Fortunately Arsenal’s options going forward in midfield are far stronger than at the back. If Wilshere were to sit out the match, it could mean a return for Mesut Özil to his favored No. 10 role, with Santi Cazorla coming in on the left. That would leave time for Wilshere to get fully fit in time for the north London derby against Tottenham next Saturday, with Wenger likely to field a much-changed lineup in the Capital One Cup against Southampton in midweek.
Olivier Giroud won’t feature in any of those matches having been ruled out for the rest of 2014 after breaking a bone in his ankle. It is unlikely that Theo Walcott will be involved in that run of games, either. In his latest update, Wenger stated that the forward will not resume full training until next week at the earliest. After eight months out, Walcott is then likely to feature in some Under-21 matches in order to start recovering his match sharpness. Speaking on Thursday, Walcott explained that he hopes to be able to use his experience of a long injury absence to help Giroud through his recovery.
“I’ve been through a long injury myself now so I’ve said to him, ‘If there’s anything down the line you need to talk to me about from the rehab side of it, from the family side, anything, I’m there for you’,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “I’m just a phone call away and he comes in anyway in the afternoons so I’m always there to see him.
“It was such an innocuous thing that happened. But you’ve got to think when you get injured that it’s a good opportunity to work on something and Oli’s got all the attributes to [do that]. He’s a very good athlete and he can be even stronger when he comes back from this, and that’s what I said, which he appreciated. He’s a great guy.”