Anxious Arsenal sweat on the results of Aaron Ramsey’s scan on a thigh injury sustained in the FA Cup fifth round replay win over Hull, with a potential lay off of up to six weeks looming.
Should the damage prove significant enough to rule him out for this length of time, the Wales international will miss a chunk of the Gunners’ Premier League title run-in, including key games at Everton and West Ham United, as well as the FA Cup quarter final with Watford.
With Arsene Wenger’s expansive resources currently under characteristically Arsenal-like levels of injury-related duress, this setback could not have been timed much worse.
Among their stricken centre-midfielders are Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving just Premier League rookie Mohamed Elneny and veteran Mathieu Flamini to hold the fort, with the potential for ageing Mikel Arteta to help out too.
The former duo have little to offer in terms of attacking output, while the Spaniard hasn’t operated in the playmaking guise he used to thrive in since his Everton days.
As Arsenal look to overcome their much-discussed woes in the final third, losing arguably their greatest threat of midfield goals is a major cause for concern.
Still, with just two league goals in 2016, there’ll be plenty of apathetic supporters who argue Ramsey’s loss isn’t anything the Gunners can’t overcome, but an alarming contrast in results when the Welshman is in the team this term as opposed to when he isn’t will surely silence his legion of detractors.
His last notable absence came following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
This triumph, arguably their greatest of the campaign to date, was the fifth in a row in which Ramsey had made the XI and it preceded something of a form capitulation while the 25-year-old was in the sick bay.
His teammates were beaten 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, 5-1 at Bayern and 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion over his seven-game layoff.
Ramsey’s return from this stint coincided with a run of four victories and a draw from the first five matches he made the XI, helping forge a win percentage of 57% when he starts.
This number slips to 46% when he isn’t on the pitch at kick off, while their percentage of defeats climbs from 23% with him to 38% without.
He’s certainly out of this weekend’s FA Cup quarter final, so a wager on 5/1-underdog Watford must be worthwhile.