Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that Santi Cazorla could return to first-team action with the Gunners before the turn of the year.
The Spain international has been sidelined with an Achilles injury since the 6-0 win over Ludogorets in a Champions League game in October last year.
Cazorla is understood to have had as many as eight operations on his recurrent problem and he is currently in light training as updated via his social account. Speaking after Monday's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, Wenger confirmed that the Spaniard should make a return during the festive period, provided he has no further setbacks.
He said: "It won't be before Christmas. The first signs are positive, but still he has not played for one and a half years. He is not in full training yet, he needs a few games with the reserve team, so I think if all goes well, it will be after Christmas."
Cazorla suffered a similar injury at the north London club during the 2015/16 season, and he has sorely missed at the heart of the Gunners midfield. Granit Xhaka looked to have provided the outlet for the club with his precise passing skills, but even he has been a letdown this season with the fans criticising his performance in social media.
The likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny have also featured at the heart of the Gunners midfield, with the latter providing a strong performance against Tony Pulis' men last night. The Egypt international acted as the perfect pivot between the Gunners defence and attack as he combined splendidly with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Sead Kolasinac.
Arsenal have remained unbeaten in the second month of the Premier League campaign, and this has propelled them up to seventh place, six points adrift of leaders Manchester City. Arsene Wenger's men host Brighton and Hove Albion in their next league outing at the Emirates this weekend.