By Matt Farr
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry believes the club are hurting from the loss of midfielder Santi Cazorla.
The Gunners legend, who is Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer, believes that attacking-midfield sensation Mesut Ozil is suffering the most from his absence.
Cazorla has been sidelined for the Gunners with an Achilles injury, and has not featured since the 6-0 Champions League victory over Ludogorets in mid-October.
Henry explained the knock-on effect of the absence of Cazorla, who is a first-team regular, usually alongside Francis Coquelin in central midfield, when fully fit.
“There’s always a debate about whether the Coquelin-Santi partnership is good enough to win the league,” Henry told Sky Sports, as quoted by the Daily Express. “But what it does is when Santi is not playing, Mesut starts to come to deep to get the ball.
“And you know [there’s] not that first guy that can pass the ball in between the lines so it is different when Santi is not around.”
Cazorla scored two goals and provided three assists before his injury, and no return date has yet been confirmed for the Spain international.
In his absence, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has tried three different midfield partnerships in his last five Premier League games.
Wenger opted for a partnership of £35 million summer signing Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny in their last outing against Bournemouth, with midfield mainstay Coquelin dropped to the bench.
Aaron Ramsey is also a contender for a first-team place, but has yet to break back into the first team in central midfield following his return from injury.
Meanwhile, Ozil has just two assists and one goal from seven games without Cazorla – compared to four goals and an assist during his last two matches alongside his team-mate.
In other Arsenal news, Arsene Wenger has admitted that playing Gabriel Paulista at right-back was a huge gamble.