How Arsenal Will Cope with Santi Cazorla's Absence from Game to Game

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

How Arsenal Will Cope with Santi Cazorla's Absence from Game to Game

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    Amid all the excitement over Mesut Ozil's impressive debut at Sunderland, the bad news about Santi Cazorla's injury was slightly lost.

    Arsene Wenger took the shine off Ozil's enthralling introduction by revealing after the match that it was only Cazorla's absence that afforded the German the opportunity to strut his stuff.

    Prior to the game, Arsenal fans had presumably been salivating at the prospect of seeing Ozil and Cazorla in tandem. Now they will have to wait for more than a month to see that mouthwatering prospect become a reality, after Wenger told the BBC that Cazorla is unlikely to play before the next international break in mid-October.

    Cazorla was voted Arsenal's Player of the Season in 2012/13. Prior to the arrival of Ozil, he was their undisputed primary playmaker. Over the next six slides, we examine how the Gunners can cope with the absence of the gifted Spaniard while he recovers from an ankle problem. 

Marseille vs. Arsenal, Champions League

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    After dominating midfield so effectively against Sunderland, Arsene Wenger is likely to name the same XI to face Marseille in Arsenal's first Champions League encounter of the season.

    That will mean Jack Wilshere continuing in the left-wing berth earmarked for Santi Cazorla. Although Wilshere is more naturally a central player, he did play as a winger when he burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old. His ability to interchange positions with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey should keep Arsenal's midfield fluid in Cazorla's absence.

    A key man in this match might be Mathieu Flamini. In the absence of another Spaniard, Mikel Arteta, Flamini is the only naturally defensive midfielder in the team. Against his former club, he'll be determined to make sure Arsenal win the midfield battle and allow the likes of Wilshere to break forward and cause damage.

Arsenal vs. Stoke, Premier League

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    This match will be all about the Arsenal fans welcoming Mesut Ozil for his first game at the Emirates Stadium.

    Ozil will doubtless start in the No. 10 role behind Olivier Giroud, flanked by the likes of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. The German international will be desperate to impress his new home crowd and will enjoy the responsibility of being Arsenal's sole creative hub.

    If Tomas Rosicky has returned from the back injury picked up on international duty, he might be rotated in to help the side counteract the loss of invention caused by Santi Cazorla's absence. 

West Brom vs. Arsenal, Capital One Cup

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    Santi Cazorla probably would not have played in this game even if he had been fit.

    Arsenal are currently reliant on a small number of senior players. In order to give their bodies a much-needed rest, Arsene Wenger is likely to use this Capital One Cup tie with West Brom to rotate his squad.

    Promising youngsters like Serge Gnabry and Ryo Miyaichi are most likely to step in to the attacking midfield spots. 

Swansea vs. Arsenal, Premier League

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    According to The Mirror, Arsenal will be able to compensate for the absence of Santi Cazorla in this match by welcoming back another Spaniard: Mikel Arteta.

    Although a more conservative player than his compatriot, Arteta will bring seniority, balance and impeccable passing to the Arsenal midfield.

    Arsenal fans will be delighted to welcome back a player who has become an integral part of the side. 

Arsenal vs. Napoli, Champions League

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    In this match, Arsenal could finally be able to call upon a natural left-sided attacker: Lukas Podolski.

    According to Steve Stammers of The Mirror, Podolski is responding well to treatment for a hamstring injury and is set to return a few weeks ahead of schedule in time to face Napoli.

    Podolski will be excited to link up with his international colleague Mesut Ozil in a new-look Arsenal attack.  

West Brom vs. Arsenal, Premier League

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    By the time this match comes around, Arsenal's squad should be in healthy enough shape to cope with the absence of Santi Cazorla.

    The return from injury of Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky will provide Arsene Wenger with the variety and depth he requires for such an incessant campaign.

    If Arsenal are able to navigate these six fixtures successfully, they will have the boon of a returning Cazorla to act as a catalyst after the international break.

    With Cazorla back in the mix, the Gunners could be ready to explode.