The days following Arsenal’s 1-0 loss at Manchester United in the Champions League have brought additional news on the injury front, with both Eduardo and Mikael Silvestre now expected to miss the league match tomorrow (Saturday) against Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
After initially hearing on Thursday that Eduardo would be out for the weekend, Friday’s press conference from Arsene Wenger included news that the Brazilian-turned-Croatian could be out for the rest of the season.
Explaining that Eduardo suffered a groin injury during a clash with Rio Ferdinand late in the Champions League match at Old Trafford, the Arsenal manager said the striker will be out for three weeks. Since May 27 would be the latest date the Gunners can play this season, it seems unlikely Eduardo will play again this term.
A groin injury will also sideline Silvestre for Saturday’s game at Portsmouth, according to Wenger. The manager added that Robin van Persie is out for the Fratton Park game, and that he will make a late call on the Dutchman’s status for the Champions League on Tuesday. Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy (back injury) is certain to miss both matches.
“If van Persie is 100 percent fit he has a very good chance,” noted Wenger (in a story on http://www.arsenal.com). “If he is not, he will not play in a game of that stature, that is for sure.”
As far as player availability for this weekend, Russian Andrey Arshavin does return to the Arsenal squad after being ineligible for the Champions League game on Wednesday.
While the team’s focus remains on the Champions League tie with Manchester United, a Premiership win on Saturday would secure a top-four league finish for Arsenal, and could also improve their chances of snatching third spot — which captain Cesc Fabregas believes is still within grasp, as Chelsea have yet to travel to the Emirates for a league encounter.
“Let’s think about the league (game), and the (Champions League) tie is still open,” Fabregas told arsenal.com’s Richard Clarke on Thursday. “You look at the 1-0 scoreline in the first leg, and we have seen worse things than that in the Champions League.
“How much stronger are we at home?” Fabregas queried. “We showed that in the Premier League, by beating them and scoring two goals. We have to be more clinical in front of goal — that is for sure. We passed the ball a lot and combined very well, but we were not clinical enough. That is what we have to improve.”
Wenger has vowed that “you’ll see a different Arsenal team next week,” referring to the second leg of the CL semi at the Emirates. In Friday’s press conference, the manager added that he’ll rotate the squad on the weekend to keep players fresh for the European clash.
“We want to keep our run going (in the league) and win the game (Saturday),” said Wenger. “I want to give some players a breather who need one but as well it is very important for us to get closer to Chelsea and I don’t want to give any hope to Villa either (regarding fourth place in the league).”
Arsenal supporters in the U.S. can watch Saturday’s match with Portsmouth live at 10 a.m. (Eastern time) on Fox Soccer Channel, and can view the return leg of the Champions League semifinal vs. Manchester United on ESPN2 starting at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on May 5.