Arsenal playmaker Santi Cazorla is a doubt for the Premier League visit of Middlesbrough after being forced off during the Champions League thumping of Ludogorets Razgrad at The Emirates Stadium. The Spaniard laid on the fourth goal for Mesut Ozil, the first of his maiden career treble, but was quickly withdrawn after being seen noticeably limping during the second half.
But there was better news for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger whose second-top scorer Alexis Sanchez escaped without any long-term damage after being struck with an elbow in the second half. The Chile international, who opened the scoring with a sublime chip after 13 minutes, walked away gingerly after a clash with defender Natanael after the break but his substitution after 73 minutes was not linked to any further damage.
"He got a kick and I took him off as quickly as possible," the Arsenal boss told reporters of Cazorla, 31, "He got a kick on the back of his achillies tendon. In my view he was limping a little bit so I didn't want to take a gamble. And when asked about any injury Sanchez may have picked up, the French coach replied: "No [I am not concerned]. I just wanted to give him a breather but physically he looks already."
The concern surrounding Cazorla worked to partially overshadow an otherwise comfortable evening for Arsenal as they secured their seventh win in a row to take another stride towards qualification for the Champions League last 16. After Sanchez broke the deadlock, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netted either side of half time to all-but claim the points.
The stage was then left to Ozil, who scored the first hat-trick of his professional career in a 31-minute blitz in the second half. The treble took the World Cup winner's tally for Arsenal for the season to six - a showing which delighted his manager.
"It looks like he gets a taste to score goals because he grows more from bind, then he comes for the ball to provide," he gleamed. "You want him to be a provider and a scorer and it looks like he is slowly moving towards that better balance.
"Maybe confidence is high. We have a good balance in the team and maybe we make more of our chances. The final ball is better; is that because our finishing is better? It's difficult to analyse at the moment. What is for sure is we score more goals. That is what our game is about, we have a risky game and therefore it is important that we take our chances."