Arsenal wait as Robin van Persie suffers injury on international duty
Wednesday 30 March 2011
Arsene Wenger will be keeping his fingers crossed Arsenal striker Robin van Persie gets lucky and has not suffered another serious injury setback while on international duty with Holland.
Van Persie set the alarm bells ringing when he hobbled out of the 5-3 win over Hungary, having opened the scoring in Amsterdam.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk last night played down the problem, suffered when the striker received a knee in his thigh, suggesting "with luck he could play for Arsenal this weekend."
However, with both van Persie's recent injury history and the recent general setbacks suffered by the battle-weary squad, Wenger would be forgiven if he did not put much faith in the footballing Gods to deal him a favourable hand as he prepares for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Blackburn.
Van Persie - who suffered a serious ankle injury while on international duty in November 2009 which sidelined him for five months of last season - is set to be assessed by the Arsenal medical staff upon his return to London, and the extra day's rest of the new Euro 2012 qualifiers could work in his favour for a swift recovery.
Wenger will certainly have plenty to contemplate from the international break, during which nearly all of his squad were away, with youngster Jack Wilshere impressing on his two appearances for England, while the teenager could be set for a busy summer if, as expected, he is called into the Under-21s European Championship finals squad.
However, on his immediate agenda will be ensure the team return to winning ways against Rovers in Saturday's afternoon's late kick-off at Emirates Stadium.
By then, the Gunners could further trail leaders Manchester United, who are at relegation-battlers West Ham earlier in the day, or indeed be handed another golden opportunity to slash the current five-point deficit.
Despite being held to a second consecutive draw a fortnight ago at West Brom, where they had trailed 2-0, all is not yet lost for the Gunners, who, if they win their remaining fixtures - which include a showdown against United at Emirates Stadium on May 1 - would be crowned Premier League champions.
"I am confident the consistency at the end of the season will be rewarded, so let's focus on keeping our run going and winning our next game," said Wenger, whose men have not lost in the league since going down 1-0 at Old Trafford on December 13.
"Things can change very quickly, and what is important for us is to get back winning, which is what our squad needs at the moment - the psychological lift of coming back from 2-0 down was vital for our next game against Blackburn."
While Arsenal may be left sweating on the fitness of van Persie, it is likely captain Cesc Fabregas, England winger Theo Walcott, and midfielders Alex Song and Abou Diaby may well all be in contention to return against Rovers.
Wenger must also decide whether to stick with Manuel Almunia or hand veteran Jens Lehmann a shock return to action.
The 41-year-old made his first appearance in Arsenal colours for nearly three years when he played 90 minutes as the reserves lost 2-1 at Wigan yesterday.
Lehmann, part of the Invincibles side of 2003/2004, came out of retirement to answer Wenger's goalkeeper SOS following injuries to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski that left Almunia as the only fit senior man.
However, the 33-year-old Spaniard is already under the spotlight once again after poor performance at The Hawthorns.
Lehmann - who moved to Stuttgart three years ago - enjoyed his outing at Robin Park Arena.
"It was very beneficial for me to play a game," he told www.Arsenal.com.
"Physically I felt well because I have trained hard during the last few weeks.
"I was okay before [I joined], but it's different when you train with the team for three hours.
"I felt that quite a lot last weekend, but now I have recovered a little bit and I felt quite fresh."
Lehmann continued: "It is always good to learn a little bit what I could have done better.
"There are some situations that you can't play in a training game because in a real game there is a referee, linesmen and everything has to fit together to create situations like the game itself.
"It was a good experience."
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