William Gallas back for Arsenal as Cesc Fabregas call goes to the wire

31 March 2010 09:04

William Gallas delivered Arsenal a timely boost by declaring himself fit to face Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas will be given as long as possible to shake off a knee injury.

Gallas has trained fully for the last three days and expects to make a return to Arsene Wenger's back four against the European champions after seven weeks out with a calf problem.

Fabregas spent Tuesday resting and applying ice to his knee in the hope of leading the Gunners out against the club where he started his career.

Concern: Fabregas injured his right knee at Birmingham

'If Cesc is fit, I will play him,' said Wenger yesterday. 'Themedical staff tell me there is still a chance he will be available butthat will decided in the warm-up tomorrow night. That tells you howlate we will leave it.

'I would say 60 against, 40 for him playing. Cesc is desperate toplay in every single game we play. Who wouldn't want to play in a gamelike this? He always wants to play every day and I believe it is themark of a great player that they want to do that and are happy whenthey do.

'He wanted to run off the injury on Saturday. I will know tomorrowwhether I made a mistake or not in keeping him on the pitch.'

With memories of the Ryan Shawcross tackle which broke AaronRamsey's leg still fresh in his mind, Wenger is still unhappy about thechallenge on Fabregas by Birmingham's Craig Gardner on Saturday, andthe fact that pundits like Alan Hansen insist aggression is the key tobeating Arsenal.

In the running: Vela, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Eboue and Denilson train, but Arsenal skipper Fabregas is nowhere to be seen

'You should analyse the tackle again and you will not be surprised that he is injured,' said Wenger.

'It's the left foot which injured Cesc. I don't know why the guyneeds to tackle with his left foot. When you look at how Ramsey brokehis leg, it's the left foot of Shawcross that broke his leg. Once a bigplayer goes in and has full weight on the ball when two face eachother, the other foot comes in when you have full power and yourligaments or your bones go. The lucky thing for Cesc was that he toldme he saw it coming and didn't go for the ball.

'If you analyse the tackle and you show me in slow motion that it'sa regular tackle and show me why, then I am ready to accept it. But itwasn't. There is a difference between commitment and aggression. I likecommitment, I have nothing against teams playing against us withcommitment.'

Comeback trail: Gallas (front) hasn't played since February

The return of Gallas is vital for Wenger against a quick and mobileteam like Barcelona, who are without Andres Iniesta but boast a wealthof attacking options, including Thierry Henry, Arsenal's recordgoalscorer who returns to his former club for the first time since hisexit, three years ago.

PLAYING FOR PRIDE CSKA Moscow will play for 'pride and honour' at the San Siro tonight, with the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal against Inter Milan coming two days after suicide bombers killed 39 people in Moscow.

CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky  said: 'It's a real tragedy. The city of Moscow has cried and it's a loss for all of Russia. We will do our utmost to honour our country and our football with great pride.'

Meanwhile, Inter boss Jose Mourinho broke a month-long media silence with yet another teasing message: 'I miss the Premier League and the Premier League misses me.'

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola said: 'He is a player who still hasArsenal in his heart but we will have to see who plays. The importantthing is for him to do a job for the club.'

Guardiola dismissed concerns about the fitness of Fabregas bypointing out how Arsenal demolished Porto 5-0 in the last round withouthim. He was also disappointed by comments from his own president, JoanLaporta, hailing Lionel Messi as the greatest player of all time.

'He is 22 years old but he has big, big shoulders to cope with thepressure without problems,' said Guardiola.'But it is too young todescribe him as the best player in all history.

'He has to make his career and when he finishes and does not want toplay anymore we will see with perspective whether he is the best ornot.'

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic: I will prove I'm not a Euro flopArsene Wenger: I get kicks from the beautiful game! Arsenal boss says fine football is the best weapon ahead of Barcelona clashBarca chief predicts progress and hails Guardiola's 'almost perfect' teamGallas offered return to France with PSG as Arsenal stand firm over dealARSENAL FC

Source: Daily_Mail