Operation or not, Sagna will miss three months – but Vermaelen returns


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The Independent Football

Arsenal have not yet decided if Bacary Sagna will have surgery on his broken ankle. The right-back fractured his right fibula in a collision in the 68th minute of Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. Unable to join up with the French national squad, he is now with the Arsenal medical staff who will decide about an operation. Either way, it is thought his recovery time will be around three months.

Sagna's long-term absence means that he, like Jack Wilshere, is unlikely to play again in 2011. Indeed, the young Englishman may not return after surgery on a stress fracture in his right ankle until February or March.

There was good news on Arsenal's centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, though, who returned to light training yesterday after ankle surgery one month ago. "Great step forward today," he wrote on Twitter last night. "First run outside without any pain or discomfort. Hopefully I can make good progress this week."

In the aftermath of the derby defeat at Spurs, the club's No 1 goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny admitted that supporters "deserve better". Arsenal have taken just seven points from their seven Premier League games so far and are 15th in the table. Asked how long the fans might have to wait, Szczesny responded: "As soon as possible I hope. The club deserves better, the fans, who up to now were fantastic, deserve better than what they saw so I hope we can improve as soon as possible."

Kyle Walker's winning goal at White Hart Lane appeared to go through Szczesny's hands, and the young keeper admitted his frustration. "I am very disappointed in myself because I shouldn't get beat from that kind of distance," he said. "There was a lot of movement on the ball and I reacted too late. I got a touch on it and it wasn't strong enough to keep it out. I blame myself for the second one."

Tottenham are now five points clear of Arsenal with a game in hand, but Szczesny denied that the balance of power in north London had shifted. "You can't make such a statement after a couple of months, after our poor start to the season, after just one game," he said. "I think Spurs are a great club, they showed that they can play really good football but, are they better than Arsenal? I don't really think so."