By Richard Clarke
Robin van Persie’s fitness test on Wednesday morning will determine the Arsenal side against Villarreal later that day.
The Dutchman featured for the final half-hour at Wigan on Saturday but is still troubled by the groin problem he picked up playing for Holland against Scotland at the end of March. The striker’s success or failure to come through will shape Arsène Wenger’s team and maybe his formation for the Champions League Quarter-Final second leg.
William Gallas (knee), Johan Djourou (knee), Gael Clichy (back) have picked up injuries in the last two games so Wenger admits that he has little option in his backline. Mikael Silvestre will start his first game since January 3 and Kieran Gibbs, 19, will make his first Champions League start. Lukasz Fabianski will continue in goal after Manuel Almunia collected an ankle injury in the first leg while Andrey Arshavin is ineligible. Abou Diaby is in the squad after his thigh injury but is not expected to start.
“You don’t need a manager to pick the defence,” said Wenger at Tuesday’s press conference. "Gibbs has no experience and Alex Song has not played a lot at centre back. But at least we can have someone close to Gibbs who has experience [in Silvestre].
“After that we will see because Robin will have to test tomorrow morning with his groin and on that decision will depend all the rest.
“Diaby is just coming back. It was his first day in training today. He will be fit certainly for Saturday but for tomorrow he will be a bit short.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 15 Apr 2009