Arsenal's progression to the Champions League knockout stages following last night's 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund has come at a price after Mikel Arteta limped off with another calf injury that is likely to rule the Spanish midfielder out of action until 2015.
The Daily Mirror reports that the 32-year-old is facing another six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of a long-standing problem that has plagued him for much of his Gunners career.
Arsene Wenger confirmed in his post-match press conference that the former Everton man is unlikely to play again this year, which comes as a huge blow just days after it was confirmed that fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere will be unavailable for the next three months.
Wilshere requires surgery on the ankle injury he picked up against Manchester United last weekend, joining Mathieu Debuchy, Mesut Ozil, Wojciech Szczesny, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck on the treatment table.
Meanwhile, Yaya Sanogo suffered a hamstring strain against Dortmund at the Emirates on Wednesday night, so there are also some doubts about his fitness ahead of this weekend's Premier League trip to The Hawthorns to face West Brom.
"Mikel Arteta doesn't look good - it's a calf," confirmed Wenger. "I think he will be out for a while.
"The injuries are difficult to take on the chin. We go into many games and we need as many as possible available. The injury situation is a problem because we have many games and we lost two players tonight.
"Arteta again has a calf problem and that looks quite serious" - Arsene Wenger
"Arteta again has a calf problem and that looks quite serious and we lost Sanogo as well on a hamstring problem."
Some Arsenal fans have already called for Arteta to be taken out of the team following a series of under-par performances in recent months, but in light of the injury problems Wenger is currently experiencing they'll probably rue the £80,000-a-week star's absence.
The setback puts even more pressure on the French tactician after his failure to sign a defensive midfield player during the summer transfer window. And, as he continues to weigh up the possibility of recruiting someone for that position in January, Wenger's decision might now have been made for him.
World Cup winner Sami Khedira has been frequently linked with a move to the Emirates as he continues to run down the remainder of his Real Madrid contract, but the Gunners appear reluctant to meet the Germany international's extravagant wage demands - despite the fact he'll cost a relatively modest fee.
Another option for Arsenal is Croatia international Marcelo Brozovic. The Dinamo Zagreb star has been scouted on more than one occasion by scouts from the north London club, and will cost around £5 million to bring to the Premier League in the New Year.
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