Arsene Wenger ponders Arsenal cup final selection after injury blows
Arshavin set to start at Wembley as Gunners reel from Fabregas and Walcott absences
Arsenal’s worst fears were confirmed with the news that their captain, Cesc Fabregas, has been ruled out of the Carling Cup final with a hamstring injury.
Arsene Wenger admitted that Fabregas, who limped off after just 14 minutes of Wednesday night’s 1-0 Premier League win over Stoke, will miss Sunday’s showpiece game with Birmingham at Wembley.
“It is a very small injury but certainly Cesc will be out for Sunday,” said the Gunners’ boss. “For how long [beyond that] I don’t know, but definitely for Sunday.
“He is disappointed. We all feel sorry and sad for him. The only way we help him now is to win the Carling Cup as he contributed a lot in this competition.”
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Wenger would not be drawn on the chances of Fabregas being fit for the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League tie with Barcelona on March 8.
“It is very difficult to give a deadline. It is impossible.”
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As expected after the victory over Stoke, Theo Walcott will also miss the final after being carried off with an ankle injury.
“He has a classic ankle sprain. We don’t think there is any more damage to it, but it is still a sprain,” said Wenger. “We are sad for him too. He is out for Sunday and maybe one or two weeks more.”
But there was some good news for Wenger when it was revealed that Robin van Persie, Laurent Koscielny and Abou Diaby are expected to be available after they all missed the midweek game.
Wenger added: “All the three will be available. That’s the good news. And everybody else is all right from the Stoke game too.”
Andrey Arshavin is likely to come into the side for Walcott, but the replacement of Fabregas is less clear-cut with both Denilson and Abou Diaby possibilities, while Wenger may also consider using Nicklas Bendtner or Tomas Rosicky on the flanks and moving Samir Nasri into the central attacking position vacated by the captain.