Football

Arsenal Vs West Bromwich Albion, Sat 25 Sep 2010

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Arsenal will hand fitness tests to midfielders Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky (both ankle) as well as utility man Emmanuel Eboue (knee) ahead of the Barclays Premier League clash against West Brom at Emirates Stadium.

Midfielder Alex Song is available again after being suspended for the midweek Carling Cup win at Tottenham.

Captain Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and centre-half Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) will both miss out, but, along with left-back Kieran Gibbs (foot), could return against Chelsea next weekend.

Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie (both ankle), Nicklas Bendtner (groin) and Aaron Ramsey (leg) remain sidelined.

Fabregas will undoubtedly be a big loss, but manager Arsene Wenger is hoping he will return in time for next week's crunch clash with Chelsea.

"I hope that he will be ready for the Chelsea match and that he will be fine," said Wenger. "But at the moment we don't know, it's too early."

West Brom defender Gabriel Tamas and winger Jerome Thomas are fitness doubts.

Tamas is struggling to overcome a calf problem and, if he is ruled out, is likely to be replaced by Pablo Ibanez.

Ibanez's only previous league start was in the 6-0 reversal at Chelsea. Thomas is suffering from a groin injury and Cameroon international Somen Tchoyi is on standby.

Roberto Di Matteo has told Wenger that West Brom will adopt a physical but fair approach.

Albion head coach Di Matteo has sympathy for Wenger's demands that referees adopt a strong stance in protecting players from reckless challenges.

But the former Chelsea star also insists that proper tackling is part of the English game.

Di Matteo said: "My opinion is that football is a contact sport. Part of it is physicality - but it needs to be fair.

"Referees have to be strong and make sure the game is conducted in a fair manner where no players get injured. They need to protect the players.

"Sometimes it is just an unfortunate challenge, sometimes it is challenges that can be avoided when a player gets injured.

"It has got to be fair. No one wants to see players getting injured or breaking legs.

"I don't know what category we find ourselves in at the moment. We want to be competitive but we are not the bad boys of the Premier League at the moment."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Arsenal
West Bromwich Albion
Football
Premier League
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