Bendtner: February will prove to be crunch month for Arsenal

Nicklas Bendtner has described February as being the "decisive month" in Arsenal's season, starting with tonight's Premier League game at home to Everton.

The Gunners are still chasing honours on four fronts and start the month in second place in the table, five points behind Manchester United, who welcome Aston Villa tonight. February will also see Arsène Wenger's side entertain Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League knockout encounter, take on Birmingham City in the final of the Carling Cup at Wembley and also visit Leyton Orient in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

By March they could well have landed their first trophy in six years and be placed to contest three others. Alternatively, they could find themselves contemplating another season of near misses.

Striker Bendtner said: "February looks like being the decisive month, I would say. One cup will be decided, and the Premier League table will take shape. February is a big, big month for us and at the end of it we'll see where we are. We need to start by beating Everton – so we need to be up for the challenge."

Arsenal will have to cope without Samir Nasri for much of the month after the midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday's 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Reports from Poland yesterday said goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski could be out for the rest of the season if club doctors decide he needs surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained in the warm-up against Manchester City on 5 January.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen is sidelined until March with an Achilles injury, Sébastien Squillaci is suspended for tonight's game and midfielder Denilson is a doubt, having played on against Huddersfield in the FA Cup on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

Wenger admitted that injuries going into this busy period were now his main concern. "To have a chance to win the championship we have to win our home games," the manager said. "But you see now that to go for all the competitions, it is an important part of the season where you don't want to lose your players. When you go into the final sprint it is important that you have all your best players available."

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