Arsene Wenger has admitted that Santi Cazorla has undergone a knee operation and revealed the Spaniard could miss the rest of the season needing atleast four months to fully recover.
The 30-year-old Spanish midfielder picked up the injury early in the second half of the Gunner’s recent draw against Norwich but he remained on the field for the rest of the match.
Wenger admitted later in the press conference that Cazorla had to finish the game “on one leg” and said ahead of Saturday’s important win over Sunderland further said, there was a possibility the Spaniard would be sidelined until March.
At that point it was not clear whether Cazorla would need surgery but, when addressing the media after the 3-1 win against old rival Sam Allardyce’s team, Wenger confirmed the player had no other choice but to gone under the knife on Friday.
When asked whether the club knew about the ruptured ligament and if operation was required the French manager replied: “We know now. It has happened already. It’s not the season. It is at least three months, maybe four.”
Wenger said they were keen to begin rehabilitation process as soon as possible, that’s why Cazorla had the surgery sooner rather than later after seeing a specialist in Spain last week.
“Santi wanted to have a chance to come back quickly so he didn’t want to last too long for 25 opinions and he decided to go straight away,” Wenger revealed.
“The guy said, ‘look it’s a clear case, it’s a rupture of the external knee ligament’. And he said ‘Okay, let’s do it straight away’.”
With Francis Coquelin already sidelined with his own knee injury, Wenger’s options in the midfield are now limited. He paired Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey together in the Sunderland match, with Ramsey only just returned from a hamstring setback.
The Wales international however scored and played the full 90 minutes as he is trying to step up the fitness level and he is now desperate to make the central midfield position his own in the absence of Cazorla.
“I’m still a bit short of fitness and it will take me a few games to get back into it but I’m pleased today with my overall contribution,” Ramsey said.
“I prefer to be back in the middle of the pitch, that is where I feel more comfortable and feel like I play my best football – to grab a goal and get an assist was good for me as well.
“I wish Santi a speedy recovery, and Francis as well, we have been hit hard by injuries this season but it gives players the opportunities to take.
“I have made no secret that I prefer to play in the middle and hopefully now I can stay there. My performance today was good and hopefully I can keep building on that now to play where I prefer to play.”
It is understood that the same midfield pair will start Wednesday’s must win Champions League away clash against Greek side Olympiakos, with the Gunners needing to win the tie by atleast two-goal margin, or 3-2 or better, to make it to the knockout stages.
“It was never easy after the start we had but we have done well to come back into the position that we find ourselves in and it is in our hands – we know what we have to do,”
“We got off to a good win today for December and hopefully we can continue this and keep ourselves in the hunt for the league and to hopefully qualify for the Champions League as well.” Ramsey looked quite optimistic when speaking to the reporters.