Arsenal's injury problems compounded before Newcastle United match: Aaron Ramsey out for four weeks
Arsenal received the news they least wanted to hear in the lead up to Saturday’s clash with mid-table rivals Newcastle United, when it was announced that Aaron Ramsey is to be ruled out for at least four weeks with his hamstring problem.
It has been an injury-ravaged season for Ramsey, and it was only this week’s Champions League match against Galatasaray when he looked to be returning to his very best. He scored what he has since described as the best goal of his career, but was taken off at half-time because of the latest injury.
Arsene Wenger was quoted as saying, “Defensively, I have 24 hours to think about it and I will find a solution for the Newcastle game. We have to play somebody with almost no experience [in central defence] or somebody who is not used to playing in the position.”
With Calum Chambers suspended and both Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal out with injuries, right-back Mathieu Debuchy is likely to face his former club in the unusual capacity of a central defender. Defender Francis Coquelin has been recalled from a loan spell at Charlton as cover.
“Koscielny and Monreal are definitely out,” Wenger said. “Chambers is suspended and Ramsey is injured. We got the scan result [on Ramsey] last night. He was getting close to his form of last season. Koscielny has a calf strain. It might be linked with the fact he has maybe over-protected his achilles. The inflammation has not gone completely on one side.
Crucial mid-table clash
Newcastle have won just two of their last 28 meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, but are on a scintillating run having won six of their last eight Premier League matches. With heroes appearing from the unlikeliest sources, seven of Newcastle's league goals this season have been scored by substitutes - more than any other top-flight side.
The two teams are tied on 23 points, with 6th placed Arsenal ahead on goal difference. The stakes are high for Saturday’s match at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium because the victor, however temporarily, will catch up with the top 5 in the Premier League table.
Arsenal are without long-term absentees Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, while Newcastle will continue to miss their first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul. Senior players Moussa Sissoko and Steven Taylor are suspended for the match, and Fabricio Coloccini’s availability is subject to a late fitness test. The Argentine’s presence in the backline will be decisive in what sort of a resistance the Magpies can put up in the defensive half.