Arsenal receive timely Cesc Fabregas boost

11 December 2008 08:18
Crucially, Cesc Fabregas, who missed the Champions League tie with a knee injury, is set to return ahead of schedule, while Robin van Persie, who was absent on Wednesday night with a thigh strain, should face Middlesbrough, along with Emmanuel Adebayor, who was rested.

In addition, Gael Clichy looks to have won his battle with a hamstring problem while Bacary Sagna may have recovered from flu in time to return to right back. If not, Emmanuel Eboue should continue in defence, a week after receiving a torrent of abuse from his own fans.

However, Wenger is still without Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo, all of whom will not return until the new year, while Kolo Toure (calf) and Samir Nasri (ankle) are still sidelined.

"Sagna, Clichy, Fabregas, Van Persie and Adebayor have a reasonable chance to come back," said Wenger. "Perhaps less certain is Sagna, but the other four should be all right.

"But Kolo Toure will still be out and so will Samir Nasri. Plus, of course, the injured players we had before."

The return of key players such as Fabregas, Adebayor and Van Persie will act as a boost to Arsenal, who have now lost seven games this season, including four in their last seven and, for experienced defender Mikael Silvestre, things have to change.

The Frenchman has won titles and the Champions league, with Manchester United, and he admitted that a repeat of the dour performance in Portugal cannot be tolerated.

"If you judge the team [in Porto] then, of course, you can't expect to perform like that and win anything," he said honestly.

"But the squad is big and there are going to be different games and there are points to catch.

"We're on the road to Middlesbrough first and that's going to be tough. We've time to work and we made it difficult for ourselves, but we're still in the race and that's good.

"We proved against Man U and against Chelsea that the quality is there, so we just have to get the consistency."

Arsenal have also lost against the likes of Hull, Fulham and Stoke and Silvestre added: "You give 100 per cent against those teams but sometimes it doesn't go your way.

"If we had gone 0-0 to the end [in Porto] everybody thinks it's a good point for us, but going 1-0 down it was difficult to recover.

"It was a difficult night. I think we had better control than them in the first half and then we conceded that goal that killed us really because we had much possession of the ball, but we didn't create chances, real chances, in the first half.

"And after they scored a second goal and it was difficult to recover when you are two goals down."

Meanwhile, former captain William Gallas has been linked with a possible move to Italy.

Wenger has insisted Gallas will remain at the Emirates Stadium but Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has confirmed the Serie A club want to bring in a new defender during the transfer window, with Gallas, Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger, Roma's Philippe Mexes and Simon Kjaer of Palermo on their shortlist.

And Juventus, whose manager Claudio Ranieri signed Gallas for Chelsea before the 2001-02 season, are also keen on the 31-year-old, who is valued at around £5million.

Source: Telegraph