Arsenal can cope without Van Persie says Wenger

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal have the strength to cope without injured frontman Robin van Persie.

The Dutch striker had been in fine form before the international break, with his eight goals and countless assists helping the Gunners go on an unbeaten 13-match run through all competitions which has left them second in the Barclays Premier League table.

However, Wenger must now do without the skilful Holland forward - who travelled to Serbia for some radical treatment which involved massage with fluid from a horse placenta - for at least six weeks, with probably early January a more likely return date.

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is still sidelined by a groin problem which needed surgery and with England forward Theo Walcott (knee) short of full match fitness, Croatia marksman Eduardo - who this week agreed a new long-term deal - looks set to take Van Persie's place at the head of the Arsenal attack at Sunderland tomorrow.

Wenger believes the Gunners have the quality to pull through.

"Of course it is a disappointment and something we did not want, but I feel we have enough strength to compensate for his absence for a while," the Arsenal manager said.

"We knew when Robin came out with this injury, that he would be out for a long time, but frankly I feared it would be more because the first news was very, very bad. So it was a relief that he would be out for six weeks.

"It will also allow him to be fresh for when he comes back."

Nearly all the Gunners squad have been away around the globe during the last fortnight, which ended in World Cup joy for William Gallas as his controversial goal put pay to the Republic of Ireland in Paris but midfielder Andrey Arshavin was left disappointed as Russia failed to make it through the play-offs.

The prognosis on the foot injury to England Under-21 defender Kieran Gibbs is, meanwhile, also now more positive.

"Our medical staff called me saying he was in hospital in Lithuania with a suspected broken metatarsal. Later on it, was much better news," said Wenger.

"He will still be out for Sunderland, but maybe we could have him back for Standard Liege on Tuesday."

Gibbs had been pencilled in to replace Gael Clichy (back) on the left side of defence, but that role is now likely to be filled by veteran Mikael Silvestre.

Wenger, though, has been boosted by the availability of midfielder Denilson, the young Brazilian having been out of action since mid-September with a back problem.

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, Mexican striker Carlos Vela and defender Armand Traore have also all left a busy treatment room during the international break.

However, England Under-21 midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) remains unavailable and Abou Diaby, who returned early from the France camp, is still troubled by a calf problem.