In the win over West Ham United in Week 18, Arsenal lost their dynamo to an injury just over an hour into the match. Aaron Ramsey pulled up limp and was immediately replaced by Lukas Podolski. During Ramsey’s hobble off the pitch, he signaled what appeared to be a tear or straining of his thigh. If it’s just a strain, the Welshman will be out for a few more matches, but shouldn’t miss any significant amount of time. However, if it’s more, Arsenal could be without the Welsh maestro for an elongated period of time.
In the Gunners’ final match of the year against Newcastle United, it came out just before kickoff that Mesut Özil would be unavailable for the clash due to a shoulder injury suffered after falling on it. According to Arsène Wenger, it’s expected that the German will miss another two matches. The two players’ unavailability prompted Wenger to slot Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini back into the starting XI for the win over the Magpies.
While arguably the Gunners’ two best players of the season are out with injuries, it shouldn’t be any cause for concern. The upcoming fixtures for the club are a home match against Tottenham in the FA Cup and a pair of Premier League fixtures against Aston Villa and Fulham, away and home respectively. While the North London Derby may have some fans distraught at the thought of not having Ramsey and Özil available, keep in mind that it’s a fifth round FA Cup matchup. The two clubs will likely play a mixture of starters and subs to give seasoned players a rest. As for the two league fixtures, Aston Villa and Fulham are 13th and 18th respectively, so neither should cause much trouble for the Gunners.
With the two players’ exclusion from the team, it allows Flamini or Wilshere to fill Ramsey’s void and Podolski or Rosicky to replace Özil. For the first time in years, Arsenal is able to properly cope with major players’ absence from the squad due to injuries. If the Gunners can add even more depth in January and avoid another slump, the second half of the season should be promising.