Arsenal have confirmed that midfielder Dani Ceballos may not return to first-team action until the backend of the December after sustaining a hamstring injury.
The Spain international picked up the problem during the second half of the Gunners’ 1-1 Europa League draw at Vitoria and he was subsequently ruled out for the Leicester City clash, where the club suffered a 2-0 defeat.
Earlier this month, Emery had cited that Ceballos had only suffered a minor problem but it seems that the damage is significant enough to keep him on the sidelines for the next three to four weeks.
“Left hamstring. Sustained during the Vitoria SC (a) match on November 6. Aiming to return to full training mid-December,” read a statement on the club’s official website.
Ceballos, who is currently on loan from Real Madrid, made a bright beginning to the season and he grabbed a couple of assists during a man of the match performance against Burnley.
The 23-year-old has since struggled to replicate the performance but has remained a mainstay under Emery, having featured in 16 games in all competitions this season.
In the absence of Ceballos, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi could continue to keep their positions in the centre of the park but it will be interesting to see whether Granit Xhaka gets back into contention.
The Switzerland international has not featured since his fan outburst in a league game against Crystal Palace last month and it is unclear whether he will return to the mix for the Southampton clash.
Arsenal are already eight points adrift of the top four after the first 12 league games and they can’t afford any more slip-ups in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Unai Emery’s side have failed to win any of the previous four league games with just two points gained and the fans will be hoping for a strong response at the weekend.