By Richard Clarke
Thomas Vermaelen has suffered an injury set-back.
At last Friday’s press conference, Arsène Wenger said the Belgian defender was “a question of days” from returning to the first-team squad after more than two months out. But in training on Monday, Vermaelen damaged his Achilles again and will be sent back to see specialists. At this stage, the manager is not prepared to put a timescale on his return.
In addition, midfielder Abou Diaby faces a test on his injured ankle later this week. If he passes, he will be back in contention for the first team, if he fails, the Frenchman will also require further examination.
That is the bad news on the injury front. The good news is that Samir Nasri has recovered from the calf problem that forced him off against Newcastle on Sunday. In addition, Robin van Persie has shown no ill-effects from his first appearance since the trip to Blackburn on August 28.
While both are in the squad for the game at Wolves on Wednesday, Laurent Koscielny is suspended after his dismissal at the weekend.
“From Sunday against Newcastle, we don’t lose anyone,” Wenger told TV Online on Tuesday. “Samir Nasri is OK and available.
“Robin van Persie had only one training session before Sunday. He gets sharper everyday. Yesterday he had some pain because it was the first time he had played. But today he was better already. In a few days he will be alright.”
Ironically that game at Ewood Park is also the last time Thomas Vermaelen was seen in Arsenal colours.
And Wenger admitted that, at the moment, his injury had him flummoxed.
“We don’t have good news about Thomas Vermaelen,” said the manager. “He had a little set-back yesterday in training and he has to see specialists again.
“I don’t know where we go with Thomas time-wise but at the moment he can not play. I can’t give you any time scale at all. On the scan his Achilles is completely clear but as soon as he stays out for a while it tightens up and he has pain. We don’t know the source of his pain.
“Diaby is the same. He has a test Wednesday or Thursday. If he gets through that it will be very quick, if he still has pain he will have to see a specialist.”
TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full interview later. In it he talks about:
- The hamstring problem that has troubled Fabregas
- Arshavin’s form and fitness
- The threat of Wolves
- Why he likes Kevin Doyle so much
- If playing away is easier right now
- Why the big teams are dropping points at the moment
- The shape of the title race
- The defeat to Newcastle
- The derby games facing Man United and Chelsea