Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is out of Saturday’s crunch clash against Chelsea, while there are fears over an even longer lay-off through injury.
The midfielder limped out of the Arsenal’s home loss to Watford on Tuesday night and there reports suggest that the 26-year-old could miss further big games this month.
Arsenal face Liverpool in another title race showdown, while they meet Bayern Munich in both legs of the Champions League.
Ramsey, who has struggled with a hamstring problem this season, went in for treatment and an assessment on Wednesday, with manager Arsene Wenger sweating on the results.
The French boss is already without Granit Xhaka who is serving a four-game ban, while Mohamed Elneny is still on Africa Cup of Nations Cup duty with Egypt and Santi Cazorla is out for another two months.
With Francis Coquelin the only fit senior midfielder, Wenger has hinted that he could be forced to pair Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain together in the middle of the park.
Speaking about Maitland-Niles, he said: “Ainsley has played a lot on the flanks but I’ve seen qualities in him that tell me he can be useful in the middle and he can also be a defensive specialist.
“He’s very good in one against ones and quick in his recoveries, very good in duels, and not scared to play either.
“I’m pleased for him because he’s a boy who has had to be patient, who has a good mentality. I like him very much and I think his game is very positive.”