Arsene Wenger says that Arsenal have missed the "drive" of returning midfielder Aaron Ramsey, and said he expects the Wales captain to recapture to his best form within two to three weeks.
Ramsey, 23, has been out since Dec. 26 with a thigh injury -- a period that has coincided with Arsenal dropping from first to fourth position in the Premier League table -- but could be available to face Everton on Sunday.
Wenger -- who said Ramsey’s return will be like a "new signing" -- pinpointed the loss of the Wales international’s dynamism as key to the Gunners’ problems, but also said the combination of a host of other injuries has not helped matters.
"He's an all-round midfielder who can score goals and drives the team forward always," Wenger said of Ramsey.
"He's a real box-to-box player so it's good to have him back. That's an area where we are short because we have many midfielders out. We have [Jack] Wilshere out, [Mesut] Ozil out in this area so of course it's good to have him back.
"It's not one injury that has an impact on the squad like ours. It's the combined injuries of a few players in the same area that together players who can create and score goals. That of course has an impact.
"At the same time we had [Theo] Walcott and Wilshere and Ramsey and Ozil out, then you cannot say that you have exactly the same creativity and the same goalscoring opportunities we had before.
"You never want to look for excuses but you want as well to go into the big games and an important moment of the season with all your players available, and that was not the case."
When asked how long he expects Ramsey to take to return to top scoring form, Wenger said "two or three weeks" was a realistic target.
"He has worked very hard for a while in training now," Wenger continued. "What he lacks is competition.
"It is a bit like [a new signing], yes. Of course he is somebody who can help the team be very successful. It can be like that, yes."
Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed that Nacho Monreal will also return from injury, but Arsenal will still be without Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs and Serge Gnabry.
"We have a slight problem with Gibbs and Serge Gnabry still not be available. The squad should be stable compared to what it was against Man City.
"Gibbs has an ankle problem that he has for a while now. Gnabry has a knee problem."
Everton have taken 60 points from 31 games under new manager Roberto Martinez, and sit four points behind four-placed Arsenal with a game in hand over the Gunners in the race for Champions League qualification.