Arsenal are expecting Mikel Arteta to be out for many more weeks after the club captain suffered a setback in his bid to recover from calf and ankle injuries, reports The Guardian.
Arteta missed the entire Christmas period with a serious calf injury, last appearing in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on 26 November. Arsene Wenger originally thought the 32-year-old would be out for three to four weeks but a number of recurrences have seen him hanging around the treatment room.
Now he is expected to miss a large chunk of the remaining part of this season in what is now being described as a long-term injury by the same report. Wenger rates Arteta highly with Arsenal coaches also looking to him as a figurehead for the team.
Wenger had no hesitation in making Arteta the club captain after Thomas Vermaelen left last summer and that is owed to the way the Spaniard looks after himself. That makes it all the more frustrating for Arteta and Wenger to see the player suffer such unfortunate injury problems.
The Arsenal manager is also preparing for another three-month spell with Mathieu Debuchy, who is expecting to be told that he requires surgery after dislocating his shoulder in Sunday's 3-0 victory against Stoke City.
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The 29-year-old has visited a number of specialists since suffering the injury and has reportedly been told that the dislocation caused significant damage to ligaments and muscles around the joint.
Debuchy has only just returned from a three-month layoff after damaging ankle ligaments against Manchester City in September. Having joined from Newcastle United in a £12 million summer deal, his debut season at the Emirates Stadium is one of sheer frustration.
There is some good news for Arsenal, however, as it appears that Danny Welbeck will be fit to return to the squad for the crucial game against Manchester City this Sunday. Arsenal travel to the Etihad Stadium hoping to avenge the 6-3 defeat of last season and should have Welbeck back.
Should he fail a late fitness test, the former Manchester United striker is expected to play against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup fourth round tie on 25 January.