By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger has been hit by a raft of injury problems as he tries to prepare teams for the trip to Portsmouth on Saturday and the Champions League Semi-Final second leg next week.
Eduardo and Mikael Silvestre (both groin) are out of the game at Fratton Park and face fitness tests ahead of the return match with Manchester United on Tuesday.
Robin van Persie misses the weekend game and Wenger may have to make a call on the Dutchman’s groin problem on the day of the second leg. Gael Clichy (back) has been definitely ruled out for both games.
“For the weekend we have lost Eduardo certainly,” the manager told Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon. “He has done his groin again unfortunately. Rio Ferdinand fell on him when he had that accident. His knee went on his groin and that detached some fibres. Silvestre has a groin aswell.
“We have not scanned them yet [so we don’t know about Tuesday] but they both miss Saturday for sure.
“Robin van Persie is out for the weekend and we will only know very, very late if he could be available for Tuesday or not. We may not know till Tuesday. Gael Clichy is definitely out.”
These are busy times for Wenger and Arsenal. A win on Saturday would secure a top-four finish and could also improve their chances of snatching third spot. The manager knows he must rotate – the questions are how and how much?
“We want to keep our run going and win the game,” he said. “I want to give some players a breather who need one but aswell it is very important for us to get closer to Chelsea and I don’t want to give any hope to Villa either.”
Arsenal TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full video interview with Arsène Wenger on Friday morning. In it, the manager talks about:
- His considered views on last night’s game
- Not getting the away goal
- Turning things around at Emirates Stadium
- Playing Samir Nasri in a defensive role
- Whether Man United have missed their chance
- Paul Hart’s achievement at Portsmouth
- The career of Jermaine Pennant
- The top of the Premier League table