Arsenal begin a consecutive attempt to defend the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon, but will do so without last season’s hero from Wembley.

Scorer of both goals in the semi-final defeat of Reading and the best goal of the final, Alexis Sánchez was superb last season. He also scored in the third round as Arsenal beat Hull City, but he won’t be able to repeat the feat again.

Not only did a hamstring injury keep him out of all of December, but it has seen Arsène Wenger rule him out until next week at the earliest. That means the Chilean will miss Wednesday’s trip to Anfield.

Top of the league, Arsenal need to maintain the gap between themselves and Manchester City and – quite obviously – that would be easier with Alexis in the team. He’s a match winner, particularly in big games like the one coming up against Liverpool, and could be badly missed.

It’s important to have the forward back at full fitness, which does also mean it’s important not to rush him back too soon. So far Arsenal have coped just fine without him, so we have to hope that can continue.

READ MORE:
Inter Milan open talks with Alexis - report

The injury to Alexis has allowed Joel Campbell to prove his worth. Despite not being in the same class and suffering bouts of inconsistency, the Costa Rican has done a fine job. Perhaps on Saturday Alex Iwobi or Jeff Reine-Adelaide will also have the chance to stake a claim for a more regular place.