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By Fab4.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger  will be looking to put a disappointing week behind him as Arsenal return to Premier League action against Sunderland at the Emirates this afternoon. The Gunners will be hoping to build on their last Premier League outing that saw them beat Liverpool 1-0.

Ahead of the game Arsene confirmed more bad news on the injury front as Abou Diaby has been ruled out with a knee injury. Just when are Arsenal going to get over their injury problems? It’s becoming ridiculous. Just when it looked like we were getting the squad back together, and by back together that doesn’t include the three long-term injury victims RVP, Gibbs and Djourou, but we got Nasri and Rosicky fit, Clichy, Denilson, Vela, Walcott and Bendtner all returned from various injuries and Song came back from the African Cup of Nations. So we started to have options again. Then bang, Arshavin, Eduardo, Song, Gallas, Almunia, Ramsey and now Diaby all pick up injuries.

I really don’t know any other Premier League team that could cope with that number of injuries  on a consistent basis. My Yid mate said to me the other day when i told him about Arsenal’s latest bout of injuries ‘yeah but every time you moan about all the injuries you’ve got, when i see your line-up it’s always good’. Something to think about perhaps.

Despite the injuries i fully expect Arsenal to have enough to beat Sunderland at home. Arsene’s biggest challenge will be picking the players up after the Porto fiasco. The week’s major talking point centred around Fabianski’s errors and i really hope Almunia passes a late fitness test as i don’t think it would be a great idea to throw the young Pole straight back into the action after his performance in mid-week. Or maybe it would be good for him, a home game where he should have a relatively quiet game might build his confidence. I dunno, only time will tell i suppose.

RVP return update

Wenger also gave an update on Robin Van Persie and it’s not great news if im honest. Last month Van Persie told the media his injury was healing well and he hoped to be back at the end of March/beggining of April. Arsene then said it was likely to be mid-April. Now we will be lucky to see him back at the end of April.

If you ask me is it the beginning of April, I would say categorically no because he has not started any real fitness work yet,” Wenger told the club’s official website.

“Once he starts that, it will take at least six weeks.

“Maybe (he will be back) at the end of April if all goes well. If there is no setback, he should be back before the end of the season but it is very difficult to predict.”

I bet in 2-3 weeks Wenger comes out and says we wont see Robin again this season. Obviously i want the injury to be 100% healed and not to rush him back early, but his return couldn’t come quickly enough for me. We have missed him badly and i remember nearly smashing my laptop when i saw he had gone off against Italy, i just knew with our luck  it would be a bad injury.

Wenger slams Porto referee

Arsene has not let the referee’s performance go and i don’t blame him. It doesn’t do his reputation for being a moaner any good, but the ref was so bad i can see why Arsene sees fit to rip into him once more in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“It’s not my job to judge is he good enough or not, I just feel in that game he has shown he is not competent.

“He has made at least five mistakes. I believe he is not competent or not honest. I prefer not competent.”

“But he missed a 100 per cent penalty on Rosicky. That is a judgement in a second that I can accept. For me, the back-pass of Sol Campbell was accidental.

“He has judged it is voluntary. Okay we have a difference there. That I can accept. Technically so many mistakes. His body position. Where he stands is completely wrong at the moment he gives a free-kick.

“He takes the ball from Lukasz Fabianski. They score. What he does doesn’t make common sense and is against the rules of the referees.

“When a guy makes so many technical mistakes that are not even linked to judgement, I believe he is not competent.”

I couldn’t agree more Arsene. Mr Hansson’s performance was a disgrace on Wednesday. But let’s move on, why not ensure a similar incident will never happen again by buying a world class goalkeeper in the summer! A better keeper would not have picked the ball up or turned away once he had relseased the ball.

Team News

Arsenal have an 80% chance of having Almunia back in goal, the goalkeeper will face a test on a twister finger. There is less chance of Song making it but Arsene Wenger is still hopeful.

Abou Diaby is definitely out along with Gallas, Arshavin and Eduardo. Sol Campbell should continue to deputise for Gallas after his impressive goalscoring return against Porto, although Arsene Wenger is questioning whether he can complete two 90 minutes in four days.

Sunderland have injury worries of their own and could be without six midfielder with Henderson, Reid, Carrermole, Meyler all out. There are also doubts over Malbranque and Richardson.

Defenders Ferdinand and Menseh are also facing a race to be fit, while Campbell should make the bench.

Arsenal’s probable eleven.


Sagna                  Vermaelen                Campbell                   Clichy

Fabregas                 Denilson           Nasri/Ramsey

Walcott               Bendtner                 Rosicky

Let’s make up for the 1-0 defeat we suffered at the Stadium Of Light in November, oddly enough that was Sunderland’s last victory in the league, and give the Northerners a spanking. I fancy Bendtner to Nik one (couldn’t resist), it’s about time an Arsenal striker scored a goal!

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