The key games Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy could miss for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy have been ruled out for three months because of ankle and shoulder injuries respectively. As a result they're likely to miss big games as the season gets towards the business end. They are likely to miss encounters against the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Arsenal were rocked by two injuries today to two of their more prolific players when they found out that Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy were sidelined for three months because of ankle surgery and a shoulder injury respectively. 

As a result it means the duo could miss some key games in Arsenal's season including the resumption of the Champions League, their challenge to lift the FA Cup, and to yet again finish in the Premier League's top four. 

In the three months they are likely to face many challengers to their main objectives this season. The Gunners are in a decent position in the Premier League, just the one point outside the Champions League places, and only the two points off third which is an automatic qualification spot.

Their FA Cup fourth round tie against Brighton & Hove Albion should be negotiated relatively easily but they stand to miss the fifth and sixth rounds of the competition should the Gunners progress that far in defence of the trophy they won last season. 

Within that time there is the two-legged Champions League last 16 tie against Monaco, and should they progress against Arsene Wenger's former club, there is a chance they duo could be available for selection for the first leg of the quarter-finals of the competition, which take place three months from now. If not, then the Premier League clash at home to Sunderland the weekend after could be when they're next available. 

But in the Premier League, this weekend's huge game against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium is key fixture they'll miss. Others include the North London derby against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on February 7, while a clash with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium could be an important one in the race for the top four on April 4.

However, if their recovery goes well they are likely to be back for two big clashes that are close to the conclusion of the season. They face title chasing Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on April 25, with a trip to Manchester United on the penultimate weekend of the season potentially of huge significance to the final league places on May 16.

Arteta has been sidelined for a while and manager Arsene Wenger has said his surgery is for the long-term benefit of the Spaniard, so it isn't really an additional loss for the Gunners right now, but one they may feel as the season goes on if other midfielders are struck down by injury.

As for Debuchy, he had not so long returned from a nasty looking ankle injury, only for him to sustain a shoulder injury in the 3-0 win over Stoke City last weekend. Arsenal have struggled at the back at times this season and his loss could be felt a lot more. 

Wenger has the experience of managing a squad struck by injuries and still ends up guiding them to a respectable finish in the Premier League and he will be fancied to do it again. But only over the coming weeks and months will we know just how much the absence of Arteta and Debuchy has hurt the Gunners. 

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