Football

No easing off for Wenger

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has vowed to field as strong a side as possible at Portsmouth on Saturday as he looks to overhaul Chelsea for third place in the Barclays Premier League.

With the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United on Tuesday night, the Gunners boss could have been forgiven if he opted for something of a makeshift XI at Fratton Park.

But Wenger insists he is still focusing on the league campaign and said: "I want to give some players a breather who need one, but as well it is very important for us to get closer to Chelsea and I do not want to give any hope to (Aston) Villa either. We want to keep our run going and win the game."

Arsenal will head to the south coast without leading scorer Robin van Persie (groin), who faces a fitness battle to face United, while Croatia striker Eduardo and defender Mikael Silvestre have both been hit by similar problems.

Regular left-back Gael Clichy (back) has already been ruled out of both matches.

Wenger will at least have Andrey Arshavin available after the Russian was ineligible for European competition as Arsenal look to extend their unbeaten run of 20 matches.

"For the weekend we have lost Eduardo. He has done his groin again unfortunately. Rio Ferdinand fell on him when he had that accident," said Wenger.

"His knee went on his groin and that detached some fibres. Silvestre has a groin injury as well. We have not scanned them yet, so we don't know about Tuesday, but they both miss Saturday for sure.

"Robin van Persie is out for the weekend and we will only know very, very late if he could be available for Tuesday or not.

"We may not know till Tuesday. Gael Clichy is definitely out."

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Topics:
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Portsmouth
Andrey Arshavin
European News
Football
Mikael Silvestre
Chelsea
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Gael Clichy
Eduardo
Rio Ferdinand

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