Wenger positive despite Van Persie blow

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Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal have the strength to cope without injured frontman Robin van Persie.

The Dutch striker had been in fine form before the international break, with his eight goals and countless assists helping the Gunners go on an unbeaten 13-match run through all competitions which has left them second in the Barclays Premier League table.

Wenger must now do without the skilful Holland forward for at least six weeks due to an ankle injury but he is confident his side can cope, and said: "Of course it is a disappointment and something we did not want, but I feel we have enough strength to compensate for his absence for a while."

He added: "We knew when Robin came out with this injury, that he would be out for a long time, but frankly I feared it would be more because the first news was very, very bad. So it was a relief that he would be out for six weeks.

"It will also allow him to be fresh for when he comes back."

Nearly all the Gunners squad have been away around the globe during the last fortnight, which ended in World Cup joy for William Gallas as his controversial goal put pay to the Republic of Ireland in Paris but midfielder Andrey Arshavin was left disappointed as Russia failed to make it through the play-offs.

The prognosis on the foot injury to England Under-21 defender Kieran Gibbs is, meanwhile, also now more positive.

"Our medical staff called me saying he was in hospital in Lithuania with a suspected broken metatarsal. Later on it, was much better news," said Wenger.

"He will still be out for Sunderland, but maybe we could have him back for Standard Liege on Tuesday."

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Robin Van Persie
Andrey Arshavin
Kieran Gibbs
Premier League
William Gallas

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