Arsenal are dealing with a massive injury blow as Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere have been confirmed out until February, having failed to recover from their respective knocks. The English duo have not played this season and were expected to return in time to help the Gunners overcome a busy festive period.
However, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Welbeck has not recovered from the bruising on his bone, which has kept him out of action since April, while Wilshere still needs around six weeks to return to first team action. The Gunners are in the midst of a crisis in terms of injuries, with Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Alexis Sanchez, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky out of contention for their crucial fixture against Manchester City on Monday, 21 December.
"He is still not available because of bone bruising that deteriorated," Wenger said, as quoted by the Daily Mail, confirming his unavailability until at least February. "It is a big blow for us, especially because we could not rotate and lost Alexis Sanchez."
The manager will assess the Chilean's situation until the last minute before the game against City, with the player still recovering from a hamstring strain, which forced him off against Norwich City. The former Barcelona man had flown to Chile to receive treatment, but is now back and is training with the first team.
Theo Walcott is expected to keep his place in the squad after contributing towards two goals against Aston Villa last weekend. Sanchez's arrival may force Wenger to choose between Joel Campbell and Olivier Giroud, with a change in tactics on the cards, if he chooses to use Walcott through the middle and keep Campbell on the right.
This has turned into a must-win game for both teams, with Leicester City winning against Everton on 19 December, which has taken them five points clear of the Gunners and confirmed their place on top of the league for Christmas. Claudio Ranieri's men have overshot all expectations this season and are being heralded as challengers for the title, with teams around them failing to keep up to pace.