Arsenal playmaker Santi Cazorla is to have ankle surgery that will leave the midfielder out of action for three more months.
The Spaniard has not featured for the Gunners since mid-October after he was substituted off with an Achilles problem picked up during a 6-0 win over Ludogorets in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger commented at the time that the injury was not serious, however results since have shown that the former Malaga man's problem is not showing signs of healing.
Speaking to the press after their 2-0 defeat to Southampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, Wenger said: “Santi Cazorla is travelling to Sweden early next week to undergo surgery to his right ankle.”
And a statement on the club's official website on Thursday read: “The club’s medical team and specialists have decided that surgery is required to the plantaris tendon in the Spain international’s right foot. We expect Santi’s full recovery to take approximately three months.”
Past injury problems
Arsenal have struggled greatly this season whenever Cazorla is absent from the starting XI. The Gunners' win percentage with Cazorla playing has been a staggering 75 per-cent, whereas without Cazorla, the number drops to a mere 40 per-cent.
Squad depth is in Arsenal’s favour though as Wenger has a large pool of central midfielders to choose from to fill Cazorla’s spot, such as Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, and Mohammed Elneny.
Cazorla missed seven months of the 2015-16 season with a knee injury, where Arsenal sleep walked their way to a second-placed finish in the Premier League, after many thought the North London side would finish below Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in the Premier League era.
However, there is good news for Arsenal fans as it was also revealed on Thursday that Danny Welbeck had returned to training.
The English striker was ruled out for an estimated nine months after a crunch game against Manchester City the previous season.
However, the former Manchester United striker could be in contention to start for the Gunners during the busy Christmas period as he builds his fitness back up.