Fabregas absence no excuse says Wenger
Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal cannot use the absence of injured captain Cesc Fabregas as an excuse for failure in tomorrow night's crunch Champions League clash with Porto at Emirates Stadium.
The influential Spain international suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem during the 3-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Burnley on Saturday, limping off after he had fired the Gunners ahead.
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.
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.
"Cesc has a hamstring problem and we could not even take a gamble with him," said Wenger.
"I was hoping he would recover after the Burnley game because we were cautious with him.
"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."
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.
"We have enough players and a strong enough squad to get round that and have enough chances to qualify."
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.
Wenger feels this latest fitness set-back is not about player burnout.
He said: "I cannot fault Spain, they only played him in one half [against France].
"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."
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.
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.
"In the last few weeks he has got stronger and more confident," said the Arsenal boss.
"He is very versatile, can play defensive midfield, attacking midfield and on the flanks.
"We have a few players like that and I love that.
"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."
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.
Wenger, though, maintains tomorrow will be different.
"This time, we have scored," said the Arsenal boss.
"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
because you have to score two or three goals to qualify.
"This time it is different - if we score one and do not concede then we will qualify."
Porto were thrashed 4-0 on their last visit to Emirates Stadium during September 2008 - the Dragon's worst away reverse in the competition.
Wenger feels that result will count for nothing when the Portuguese side return to north London tomorrow.
He said: "I do not think anyone will be complacent.
"We know it will be a tricky game, but we believe we can do it.
"We have good confidence, we are in a good position, so let's go for it."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Toby Alderweireld to Tottenham: Atletico Madrid 'accept £11m bid' as Spurs beat Southampton to defender
Alexis Sanchez 'will miss start of Arsenal season' after Chile go all the way in Copa America
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture