Santi Cazorla will miss the next three months after it was decided that the midfielder would need to undergo surgery to correct his long-standing Achilles problem. Cazorla has been out of action since October 19, when he suffered a reoccurrence of the injury in the Champions League match against Ludogorets.
Arsenal will have to find a way of finding their attacking verve without Cazorla, who plays a major part in linking up play from midfield to attack. Cazorla's ability to keep the ball moving and find the right passes upfield is unparalleled, and as a result, Arsene Wenger will have a few sleepless nights trying to figure out a way to cope without the Spaniard.
"Santi Cazorla is travelling to Sweden early next week to undergo surgery to his right ankle," Arsenal said in a statement. "The club's medical team and specialists have decided that surgery is required to the plantaris tendon in the Spain international's right foot.
"The problem has not progressed during a rehabilitation programme following the injury during the home match with Ludogorets on October 19.
"We expect Santi's full recovery to take approximately three months."
Wenger had earlier admitted Arsenal do struggle for attacking cohesion when Cazorla is not in the team.
"He's important to our technical stability in the team, to the quality of our decision-making and to our build-up from deep midfield to the high midfield," Wenger said last week. "That's an important stage because it gets the ball out from the defenders.
"We have enough quality players in our side to get around that, even if Santi a massive player for us. We are good enough to find solutions despite the fact he's not there."
Arsenal, albeit a rejigged side, are coming off a poor performance against Southampton in the EFL Cup, a loss that saw a 19-game unbeaten streak come to an end. The Gunners will need to bounce back from that disappointing result quickly, as they face a tricky opponent in West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.