Wenger: Cesc absence no excuse

08 March 2010 03:56
The influential Spain international suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem during the 3-1 Premier League victory over Burnley on Saturday, limping off after he had fired the Gunners ahead.[LNB]Wenger accepts the loss of Arsenal's talisman - who has an outside chance of returning for the trip to Hull on Saturday - is a big blow.[LNB]However, the Gunners boss insists his side have the quality to nevertheless secure their place in the quarter-finals by overturning a 2-1 deficit from the first leg.[LNB]"Cesc has a hamstring problem and we could not even take a gamble with him," said Wenger.[LNB]"I was hoping he would recover after the Burnley game because we were cautious with him.[LNB]"We don't know how long he will be out. He is having a scan today and we are convinced it will only be a small time, and he has a small chance of getting back for next weekend against Hull, but to play him again [tomorrow] would mean significant damage."[LNB]Wenger, though, maintained: "Ideally we wanted him to be there, but we want to qualify and the absence of Cesc is no excuse at all.[LNB]"We have enough players and a strong enough squad to get round that and have enough chances to qualify."[LNB]Fabregas spent several weeks on the sidelines earlier this season because of a similar problem, yet remains Arsenal's leading scorer this season with 17 goals.[LNB]Wenger feels this latest fitness set-back is not about player burnout.[LNB]He said: "I cannot fault Spain, they only played him in one half [against France].[LNB]"Cesc has given a lot recently. It is a re-occurrence in the same hamstring so we have to find out why it creates some problems."[LNB]With Fabregas out, France international Samir Nasri could move into the centre of midfield, alongside Cameroon defensive midfielder Alex Song, whose domestic two-match ban does not apply in Europe.[LNB]Wenger feels the 22-year-old - who suffered a fractured leg in pre-season - has come a long way since arriving from Marseille during the summer of 2008.[LNB]"In the last few weeks he has got stronger and more confident," said the Arsenal boss.[LNB]"He is very versatile, can play defensive midfield, attacking midfield and on the flanks.[LNB]"We have a few players like that and I love that.[LNB]"Samir has adapted very quickly. He is a very intelligent boy, a quiet boy, he analyses what is happening on the pitch very quickly and has good technical potential."[LNB]Arsenal have not overturned a first-leg deficit in European competition since the UEFA Cup tie against Hajduk Split during the 1977-78 season. In the Champions League, the Gunners went out after an away defeat to Bayern Munich in 2004-05, lost to PSV Eindhoven in 2006-07 and exited the competition last season to Manchester United after being outplayed over both legs.[LNB]Wenger, though, maintains tomorrow will be different.[LNB]"This time, we have scored," said the Arsenal boss.[LNB]"When you lose 1-0 away from home it is a difficult game because when you start the next game you know it is almost over[LNB]because you have to score two or three goals to qualify.[LNB]"This time it is different - if we score one and do not concede then we will qualify."[LNB]Porto were thrashed 4-0 on their last visit to Emirates Stadium during September 2008 - the Dragon's worst away reverse in the competition.[LNB]Wenger feels that result will count for nothing when the Portuguese side return to north London on Tuesday.[LNB]He said: "I do not think anyone will be complacent.[LNB]"We know it will be a tricky game, but we believe we can do it.[LNB]"We have good confidence, we are in a good position, so let's go for it."[LNB][LNB] Arsenal 8/13, Draw 13/5, Porto 4/1  

Source: Team_Talk