It was bound to come at some point but it couldn’t have happened at a worst period in the campaign – Arsenal’s almost yearly injury crisis.
Crisis may be a strong word in this instance, but Shkodran Mustafi’s injury midway through the first half against Stoke City on Saturday now brings the Gunners’ tally of sidelined players to six, with the likes of Per Mertesacker and long-term absentees Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck all still out.
The Emirates boss, Arsene Wenger, also delivered pretty dour news for Arsenal fans regarding Mustafi’s condition following the game against the Potters, telling the Mirror that the Germany international’s injury was ‘a bad one’ and that ‘the minimum for an injury like that is 21 days – so he will have a nice Christmas.’
As the tabloid points out, Arsenal’s run of six games in the next 28 days makes the timing of this injury even more difficult to take, something the 24-year-old was all too aware of when taking to Instagram to express to his followers his sense of frustration, albeit with a tinge of defiance included at the end.
There’s never a right time for an injury but at that point of the season it’s extremely bitter. I was looking forward to the game against my former club Everton and the clash against Manchester City. I’ll do everything I can to recover as quickly as possible. Only positive thoughts on my mind because I know I’ll come back stronger than before. ?????? #sm20
For any Premier League club this is the one period of the campaign where injuries come into even sharper focus as squads are stretched to breaking point, and with the north London club now bereft of two of their best centre-backs – Mertesacker and Mustafi – the pressure will be on those who remain fit to keep Arsenal’s title challenge alive going into the New Year.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena