The dumpster fire that is 2016 roars on unabated as reports surfaced today that Santi Cazorla is set to miss at least 3 months with Achilles surgery. I have had an Achilles injury and I can tell you that the nagging ones are the worst. The last time I saw a doctor about it he said “well, you can either get the surgery and be out for a year or wait for it to snap, suffer immeasurable pain, and then also be out for a year.” From all accounts, Cazorla has a better doctor than I did and he will be back in a mere three months.
Cazorla’s absence is a huge blow to Arsenal. When he was out last season Arsenal created 16.4 shots per game with him and 14.4 without him and more importantly Arsenal created 3.1 Big Chances per game with him in the team and 2 per game without him. This same pattern repeated this season, with a marked drop in Big Chance creation with Cazorla sidelined.
With Cazorla out until nearly the end of the season, Wenger’s midfield headaches are also thrown into stark relief. The Arsenal manager has already used six different starting midfield pairings so far this season and three different pairings in the last three games. The only pair Wenger hasn’t tried from the start is Ramsey-Xhaka. With reports that “Arsenal looked better”* with those two against Southampton in the League Cup, I expect to see them teamed up this weekend.
Wenger is also looking at problems with the right back position. Jenkinson has had a run of poor form and needed to be subbed off against Southampton. His replacement, Debuchy, is injured and won’t be available for at least a few weeks as he recovers from a self-proclaimed “severe” hamstring injury.
*Considering that they were being compared to Elneny-with-dysentery and Coquelin, which is Arsenal’s worst midfield combination even when Elneny is healthy, this is a low bar.