By Richard Clarke
Robin van Persie will be missing for at least three weeks with the knee problem he picked up in the Carling Cup Final.
The Dutchman got the injury while scoring Arsenal’s equaliser late in the first half. He soldiered on until the 68th minute before being substituted.
Speaking to TV Online on Tuesday afternoon, Arsène Wenger confirmed the extent of the problem and that the striker will be out the crucial Champions League game at Barcelona next week.
Alex Song also picked up a knee injury on Sunday and misses Wednesday’s FA Cup Fifth Round replay with Leyton Orient but he should be back for the European game.
Laurent Koscielny collected a small hamstring problem at Wembley and will be given a rest against the League One side. As at Brisbane Road, Manuel Almunia is in goal while Wojciech Szczesny will be on the bench. Abou Diaby is likely to start having been omitted from the squad for Wembley.
However the main news concerned Van Persie.
“Unfortunately, we had bad news on the scan and he will be out for the next three weeks for sure,” said Wenger. “It could be longer. The shortest delay we can imagine is three weeks [so] he is definitely out for Barcelona.
“Alex Song has a knee problem as well. From his scan we had good news, it is only blood from a kick on the outside of his knee. He is out for Leyton Orient and has a very small chance for Saturday. But he has a good chance for Barcelona.
“Koscielny has a tight hamstring. There is a little bit of fatigue in there aswell so we will give him a breather.
“Almunia needs games so he will play but Wojciech is alright and will be on the bench.
“Diaby was not in the squad on Sunday. I was cautious with him. He has missed many games this season and I did not want to take a gamble with the intensity of a cup final. He will play on Wednesday night.”
TV Online subscribers can see the full interview later. In it, Arsène Wenger talks about:
- the fall-out from Sunday’s game
- the effect on Koscielny and Szczesny
- his attitude to the remainder of the campaign
- the focus on the FA Cup now
- the type of team he’ll play
- Leyton Orient’s performance at Brisbane Road
- the half-yearly financial results