Martin Keown has compared his own injury struggles at the end of his career to Santi Cazorla’s current problem but insists that the 32-year-old will be given every opportunity to bounce back.
Despite Santi being sidelined for almost a year at this stage, Keown believes that Arsene Wenger rates the Spaniard so highly that he’ll have every opportunity to return to his best and get back in the Arsenal starting XI.
“When you have an injury that will not heal, it can be very harrowing for a player,” Keown told the Daily Mail.
“If you cannot seem to be able to overcome a problem it creates anxiety.
“Towards the end of my career I had hamstring difficulties. What looked like a six-week absence turned into three months out.
“It underlined for me that I was no longer reliable for selection. Nobody wants that ‘sicknote’ tag.
“I suffered a broken leg during my career but people tend to question you more when the injury is muscular.
“Santi Cazorla will be determined to get rid of this problem once and for all. The club have done well in supporting him through this period.
“He is a player Arsene Wenger rates really highly — his true value is only realised when he is not available.
“Cazorla will be given every opportunity to get back to his best.”
Santi has under a year left on his current Arsenal deal and no one’s quite sure whether he’ll be offered an extension given his age and injury-proneness.
The midfielder is expected to return to action after Christmas, claims Wenger. However, given that he’s not played for so long, nothing’s guaranteed.
“Santi is having his first run today,” the boss revealed at his pre-Bournemouth press conference.
“His flexibility is good. Overall its very hard to set a time.
“You cant set a time, but hopefully after Christmas.
“He has not played for over a year, had a few surgeries.
“It looks positive.”
Arsenal without Santi is like pizza with no pizza sauce. It’s dry, boring, and has nothing in the middle; sure there are some pleasant elements there but something’s missing.
The Gunners have been distinctly lacking in midfield since the little maestro has been sidelined and it’s effected every facet of Arsenal’s game.
To have him back in the starting lineup would be a dream. However, ideally you’d want him to somehow reverse his age by four-or-five years as well.
In the absence of a time machine, Wenger might have to actually consider signing a replacement. Until then, we can look forward to seeing Santi in red and white again.