Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey is set to miss both the FA Cup quarter final against Watford on Sunday (13 March) and the Champions League trip to Barcelona three days later after Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the Welshman could be out of action for around "four weeks". The French boss, meanwhile, claimed that Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker "should be available" to lead the back line against the Hornets in case he decides to don't "risk" the return to action of Laurent Koscielny.
Ramsey, Gabriel and Mertesacker sparked doubts about their availability for the crucial coming games after being replaced during the 4-0 FA Cup fifth round replay victory over Hull City on Tuesday night (8 March). Wenger played down the concerns over the defenders after the game but admitted his worries on Ramsey, who came on as a second half substitute for Gabriel himself but lasted just 16 minutes at the KC Stadium.
The boss has now confirmed the bad news over the Welshman international in the press conference ahead of the Sunday game with Watford, claiming that he is not going to miss just the FA Cup encounter but also the Barcelona game.
"No, he's not out for the season. I don't think that. His clinical signs are quite positive, and I would say four weeks. It's a bit worse than what I thought because usually when a player gets injured he stops – I had the feeling it was just a precaution and he would be fit for Sunday."
Wenger, nevertheless, said Arsenal have different formulas to cope with his absence in Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Flamini. The January signing has proved his worth in recent games while Francis Coquelin is back available for Sunday after missing the win over Hull following his dismissal at Tottenham.
"He (Elneny) looks like he is ready to play," the manager said. "I consider every formula that is possible to give us a balance. At the moment I think Elneny in central midfield can cope. We have Flamini, we have Coquelin who can cope as well. They have shown [that] already. The formula can change as well if needed but that depends on the games. Every game will be different now.
Gabriel and Mertesacker, meanwhile, are ready to play against Quique Sanchez Flores's side despite the Brazilian defender having not been able to train with the group in recent days.
"Gabriel and Mertesacker came off injured but should be available," Wenger said. The Arsenal boss added that Koscielny is not "far" to return to action but, having missed the last three games with a calf injury, he is yet to decide whether is worthy to risk him for the game against Watford.
"Koscielny is not far off. Will I risk him or not? There is a little medical risk but I have not made a decision yet," Wenger reported. "He has to join in normal training tomorrow and then for me to take a gamble on a guy that has run training sessions with the group or not. After advice from medical people, I will take the gamble if he is available."