Tomas Rosicky was left “devastated” by his latest injury setback which could see him ruled out for over a month, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The 35-year-old picked up a thigh problem just moments after coming off the bench for his first appearance of the season as a substitute in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round win over Burnley.
A knee injury had kept him out until that point and, with his contract up in the summer, his new issue could mean he has played his last game for the Gunners.
Rosicky, who was signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, has been beset with injuries since and has made just 158 starts in his almost 10 years at the Emirates Stadium, and Wenger admits he has taken his latest problem badly.
“He’s devastated. Unbelievable,” he said of Rosicky’s thigh injury. Nobody understands [how he got injured]. I told him straight away after half-time to warm-up. I observed him, he’s very conscientious Tomas, he did sprint and sprint and sprint.
“He comes on, after three minutes he got the injury. I looked at him and thought, ‘Tomas you do not run properly’, because he didn’t lift his legs and he lost some balls, I was amazed because he is top-level, technically.
“He told me after the game that he did it straight away, then I understood why that happened to him. He said: ‘I stayed on, because you couldn’t change anymore.’”
A scan will reveal the seriousness of the injury, with Wenger keeping his fingers crossed.
“He’s such a good player but his career has been disrupted by so many injuries,” he added. “He was born in 1980, he’s 36, it’s difficult for him. Let’s hope we have good news, that it is not as bad as feared.”
The injury means Rosicky will not be available for tonight’s game at home to Southampton, as the title-chasing Gunners look to get back to winning ways, having taken two points from their last three games.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints hammered Arsenal 4-0 on Boxing Day, but Wenger was pleased with how his players reacted to the defeat to keep pace with the Premier League leaders.
“Of course, you are upset, but I felt on the day we did not have the mental energy,” he said. “We put a lot in. It’s Christmas, we always go to Southampton at the Christmas period. It was a little bit Christmas, it was a little bit the fact that after [beating] Man City we felt that we had done it, and we got caught by a team that was full of desire.”
“We were beaten physically. I felt, on the day, we did not have the resources. Sometimes, it is important to give a breather, just to recharge, more mentally than physically. If you play game after game, sometimes, you are just not fresh enough mentally.”
The win for Southampton at St Mary’s was their third success over Arsenal in the previous four meetings of the sides in all competitions.
However, Wenger has a simple answer when asked why the south-coast club are proving to be a bogey team for his Arsenal.
“They have a good team,” he said. “Let’s not forget they won at Man United, they won at Chelsea, they are a team with quality players like Dusan Tadic, Sadio Mane, Shane Long, Graziano Pelle, Jose Fonte at the back, Victor Wanyama. They are a team with top quality.”
Koeman has added to that quality in the window by bringing in striker Charlie Austin from QPR.
When asked if the £4m spent on the Englishman was one of the best deals of the transfer window, Wenger replied: “Yes. I was surprised how cheap he was.
“I was surprised that he was on the market and not many teams came in for him. He has shown his value straight away when he came on against Man United (scoring the winning goal).”
With Graziano Pelle (knee) doubtful, Koeman has hinted Austin will start, as the Dutchman looks to preserve a fine personal record against Wenger.
“They know it is difficult to beat Southampton and we have a good record against the big teams and we want to keep that.”
He added: “They have the pressure always to win, like Man City, like Man United, like all the big teams. They know that they have that kind of pressure and they can deal with that.”
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