Cazorlaaaaarrrgggggh, midfield issues + Arsecast 407

Arsecast - the Arsenal podcast

Good morning folks, welcome to Friday and after the week we’ve had we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up. Unfortunately I don’t have one. I’ve got a pick-me-up-and-dunk-me-in-a-freezing-cold-pond, because we got some bad news about Santi Cazorla yesterday.

After rumours started doing the rounds, it was confirmed that the little Spanish wizard was going to have to undergo surgery to correct a problem with his ankle. The club statement read:

The club’s medical team and specialists have decided that surgery is required to the plantaris tendon in the Spain international’s right foot The problem has not progressed during a rehabilitation programme following the injury during the home match with Ludogorets on October 19.

We expect Santi’s full recovery to take approximately three months.

Now, after the game against Southampton on Wednesday, Arsene Wenger was asked about Cazorla’s situation, and said:

Cazorla I don’t know, honestly. It’s just inflammation. It can go in two days, two weeks – I don’t know. He has no setback, the inflammation is just still here. At the moment, it’s stable.

Which was sort of positive, and then we get this news. I felt like this kid from Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween candy videos, where parents tell their kids they’ve eaten all their sweets. After being left distraught at the idea that all his booty was gone, his mother tells him she was just joking.

I know it wasn’t quite as deliberate as that, and the unfortunate thing about injuries is that they are often unpredictable. I do wonder if this is related to his visit to a specialist in Barcelona last month, perhaps his advice has come back to say surgery is the best option. And for those who say why didn’t we get him under the knife earlier, I guess you try as much as possible to avoid doing that, it should be a last resort unless there’s literally no other option.

It’s also interesting that it’s got something to do with the plantaris tendon. Those with reasonably long memories will remember that Thomas Vermaelen underwent surgery for a similar issue after suffering for a long time with Achilles problems. In September 2011, it was announced that:

Vermaelen has undergone a minor procedure to remove an inflamed plantaris tendon from his left ankle. This is the same treatment that he had on his right ankle in January this year and has nothing to do with his Achilles tendon. The action was taken after consultation with specialists who advised this was the best thing to do to prevent it becoming a persistent problem.

Santi, however, is set to miss three months, taking him to the start of March – and that’s assuming that there are no setbacks, delays, or anything else. So, it’s quite a blow because he’s a great player and you always miss great players when you don’t have them. On top of that, we’ve yet to find a way to balance the midfield without him, so the need to do that becomes more pressing.

I suppose the one thing you’d say is that it’s not as if every time Cazorla plays we’re brilliant, it just seems to be that when we do play to our best he’s generally involved. Arsene Wenger has got some serious thinking to do now, because I’m not sure this chop and change approach to midfield is working. I know we have plenty of options there, but you wouldn’t swap around your central defenders every week and expect them to be 100% every time.

It is a little different in midfield, but not much. Ideally you want a complementary partnership in the engine room of your side, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say we haven’t quite found it yet. I don’t know if the manager even knows what the best duo is. What we do know now, is that it is not going to involve Santi Cazorla, so he’s got find some combination of Xhaka, Coquelin, Ramsey and Elneny, and make it work on a consistent basis. Best of luck with that, Arsene.

Elsewhere, news from League One where highly-rated midfielder Dan Crowley’s loan spell at Oxford United has been cut short, amid stories of attitude problems. If you heard the podcast a few weeks ago with Stephen Bradley, you’ll know that young players can find themselves taking the wrong path for various reasons. It’s the second season in a row that Crowley has had a spell cut short by the club he’s been on loan at, so perhaps someone needs to take him aside and have a word.

Right then, time now for this week’s Arsecast, and I’m joined by the Man from East Lower to discuss all the Arsenal goings on, including the absence of Santi Cazorla and how we might cope with that; the EFL Cup game in midweek, decisions to be made at right back, the back of November and lots more. There’s some discussion of the tragic event in midweek involving Chapecoense and some of the worst media coverage of it, a quick look ahead to West Ham, lots of Christmas commercials and a dollop of the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player.

If you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.


For some extra reading this morning, here’s Tim Stillman on Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, and the Gent will be here later on with his weekly review.

We’ll have all the team news, latest on Cazorla and everything else from the manager’s press conference later over on Arseblog News. For now, have a good one, enjoy the podcast, more from me tomorrow.


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