Arsene Wenger has struck fear into the hearts of Arsenal fans after claiming Laurent Koscielny's Achilles injury will require a long-term absence to eradicate.
The defender has been ruled out of Saturday's game against Hull City after returning from international duty with France with the injury. However, Wenger has claimed that the problem will not go away anytime soon, suggesting that Arsenal are committed to managing the problem rather than curing it.
“He will not be available tomorrow,” said Wenger to reporters. “He has an Achilles problem, which has got worse. He finds it difficult to play with it at the moment.
“You can only trust what the players say. He does not feel ready to play and will not play on Saturday. An inflammation of an Achilles tendon, if you wait for it to be better, it can be a short time. If you want to get rid of it completely, it is long term.
“We will monitor him and as soon as he can take enough pain again he will play. No [he will not need surgery]. We have scanned him, there is no real deterioration of his Achilles at all. It is just the pain of the inflammation.”
An inflammation of an Achilles tendon, if you wait for it to be better, it can be a short time. If you want to get rid of it completely, it is long term. - Arsene Wenger
It is a worryingly familiar situation for Arsenal, who have seen key players go down with long-term injuries over the years. Thomas Vermaelen famously sat out almost an entire year with a chronic Achilles problem which eventually did require surgery.
Theo Walcott has also missed the majority of this year with a cruciate ligament injury. The England international will make his return in Arsenal's Under-21 match on Friday afternoon having made a full recovery.
Lack of depth
But thanks to plenty of depth up front, Walcott has not been missed as sorely as Koscielny might be. The 27-year-old's absence leaves the Gunners with just one recognised centre-back in Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal will be drafted in as an emergency replacement.
It also makes it all the more perplexing why Wenger did not sign a defender in the summer transfer window. The Arsenal boss claimed he tried to do just that, and will rectify it in January. However, Arsenal's title challenge could well be over by then.
While Koscielny can play through the pain barrier for the time being, his chronic issues brings Arsenal's management of their players' fitness into further question.