Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla Deliver Mixed Injury News for Arsenal

Ben BlackmoreFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Olivier Giroud (R) of Arsenal celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on September 14, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger will likely breathe a huge sigh of relief after Olivier Giroud declared himself fit for Wednesday’s Champions League opener at Marseille, but the news is not so good for Santi Cazorla.

Giroud did not finish Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Sunderland, limping off in the second minute of injury-time with a damaged knee. However, he delivered a positive update on his fitness, quoted by Matthew Morlidge of the Daily Mail:

It is not bad actually, not as bad as I first feared. I got a kick earlier in the game but no one was near me when I did it this time.

I tried to connect with the ball a little bit too early and I caught my foot in the grass. I twisted my ankle but fortunately, it is nothing major.

My knee is ok don't worry! Thanks for your support! 😉

— Olivier Giroud (@_OlivierGiroud_) September 14, 2013

Giroud might just be Arsenal’s most important player right now, given their lack of striking options. Lukas Podolski remains a long-term absentee, while Yaya Sanogo is inexperienced and returned from international duty lacking fitness.

Theo Walcott offers an emergency option through the middle for Wenger but, after the signing of Mesut Ozil, his speed down the flank is a key part of Arsenal’s plans this season.    

Wenger confessed after the Sunderland game, per BBC Sport: "He (Giroud) is the player at the moment that would be very difficult [to replace]."

Cazorla’s news is more troubling, with the Spaniard likely to be out until mid-October due to an ankle problem, according to BBC Sport.

The Spaniard did not feature in the weekend win at the Stadium of Light and appears set for up to a month on the sidelines after Wenger revealed: "He has an ankle problem and will be out for a few weeks as well. I don't think he will play before the next international break."

Three excellent goals at Sunderland suggest Arsenal are ready to cope with Cazorla’s absence, but he does leave the Gunners with a lack of balance on their left flank, where Podolski had already left them light. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky both have fitness issues to address, so Aaron Ramsey performed in a more advanced role at the weekend, notching twice to become Arsenal’s match-winner.

Wenger’s squad begins to look extremely strong if he can get those names back, in addition to the likes of Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta, but for now the Gunners will hope their squad creaks no further as they stretch themselves for the start of their European campaign.