Arsene Wenger has confirmed in his pre-match press conference for Arsenal’s clash with West Ham that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out for up to three or four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Reports have flooded the internet since Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph over Manchester United - the game wherein Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up the complaint - as to just how long the youngster would be missing. Now though, as his side prepare to do battle with a resilient West Ham outfit - Wenger has confirmed a damning blow.
"It's a hamstring injury. He'll be out for three to four weeks," Wenger confirmed this morning.
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"It's frustrating for him but he's played more games this season than before. He's shown his importance."
The injury means that the England international will certainly be unavailable for the all-important Champions League second-leg tie against AS Monaco next week, whilst if there’s any issues involved in his recovery he probably won’t be fit to face Liverpool at the beginning of April. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the 21-year-old, whose mazy run set-up Nacho Monreal for the opening goal of the game against United.
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Wenger will likely be thankful that the blow has been confined to just four weeks, with fears as he trudged off in the 51st minute sure to have been at a premium.
What it could mean
Given Arsenal’s injury woes earlier on this season Gunners fans know all too well that they will struggle to maintain a challenge for the Champions League places if a number of key players are out for an extended period, and this way Oxlade-Chamberlain should definitely get more football under his belt before the end of the season.
Of course where there is reason for frustration there is so often cause for optimism, and in this instance that can be taken from the fact that Theo Walcott will now get a chance to impress before his future his decided. The lightning-fast winger has been frozen out of late since his own return to full-fitness, and doubts are beginning to be cast over his long-term future in north London.
Yet with Oxlade-Chamberlain no longer in front of him the 25-year-old has a clear path to the starting XI. He’ll be looking to convince Wenger he merits a place in the Frenchman’s plans for next term, lest he be let go at the end of the season if Arsenal undertake a re-shuffle.
So, annoyance for one man, possible redemption for another, but nonetheless a definite blow for the Gunners’ hopes of overturning a 3-1 deficit in France next Tuesday. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s power and direct running can be a headache for even the very best of defences, and Wenger is sure to be hoping inspiration can come from another source in his stead.
Arsenal fans, just how big a loss is Oxlade-Chamberlain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...