Wenger's injury woes get worse: Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby ruled out for nine months
France international tears cruciate ligament in his left knee
Thursday 28 March 2013
The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has been dealt a major blow after Abou Diaby was ruled out for nine months. The midfielder injured his left knee in training on Wednesday and scans have revealed that he has torn the anterior cruciate ligament, meaning he needs surgery and will be sidelined for the rest of the year.
Wenger had been resisting the temptation to rush Jack Wilshere back into action, despite a mounting shortage of midfielders at the club.
But the Diaby set-back leaves Arsenal with just Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin available for the central midfield berths.
Wilshere – who made his comeback in October after 17 months out injured – has not played since sustaining a badly bruised ankle in the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on 3 March and missed England's most recent World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
Despite his absence, Arsenal have beaten Bayern Munich and Swansea City away in their only two fixtures since then. They have also moved to within four points of their north- London rivals Tottenham with a game in hand as they chase fourth place and Champions League qualification for a 16th successive season.
Yet with Diaby now sidelined after having played alongside Arteta against Swansea a fortnight ago, and Theo Walcott absent for tomorrow's meeting with Reading at the Emirates after picking up an injury on England duty, Wenger is taking a cautious approach with Wilshere due to concerns over his long-term future.
"We deferred his rehab a little bit by one week. We gave him one more week rest because it was wise medically to do it," Wenger said. "It was an inflammation of his bone and we had such history with him [that] we are a bit more cautious than we would be with you or with me.
"He will start his first run outside on Monday and six days after that will be too short. He's out for four weeks on Monday. He works very hard inside in the gym but it's not the same. He knows he has to take care of his future. Because he is a very young player, I think he accepts it."
Walcott is expected to be in contention for next week's visit to face West Bromwich Albion after pulling out of the England squad with a groin injury. He has failed to score in his last five appearances but Wenger was adamant that signing a new three and half year contract worth £100,000 a week in January has had nothing to do with his dip in form.
"I don't believe that. If he didn't play well and had not signed a contract, then people would say the opposite," he said. "I don't think that is linked especially with the fact that he has signed a contract or not. Because you can say as well he is more secure, he can express himself.
"I don't see any difference in attitude in training. He is a guy who loves football, who stays after training, works on his finishing. He was just a bit less decisive. He needs that fraction of a second to make the difference. He needs his pace."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal Champions League fixtures: Gunners to open with Dinamo Zagreb trip, plus daunting back-to-back Bayern Munich ties
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: £58m deal hits the rocks as Wolfsburg admits they're 'in no rush' to sell former Chelsea midfielder
Pogba to Chelsea: Blues set to smash British spending record with £70m midfielder and £34m John Stones
Manchester City face another struggle to make an impact in Champions League
Paul Pogba to Chelsea: Transfer news live - John Stones latest, Gareth Bale and Neymar to Manchester United, Edinson Cavani to Arsenal
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs