Five missing for Gunners
Arsenal have suffered a major blow with the news that five key stars will miss the Champions League clash with Porto.
Last Updated: 16/02/10 5:17pm
Arsenal have suffered a major blow with the news that five key stars will miss Wednesday's UEFA Champions League clash with Porto.
Eduardo, Andrey Arshavin, Alex Song, Williams Gallas and Manuel Almunia have all been ruled out of the trip to Portugal.
Strike duo Arshavin and Eduardo are both missing with hamstring problems meaning Arsene Wenger is short of options in attack with Robin van Persie a long-term absentee.
Song is ruled out after picking up a knee injury against Liverpool last weekend, while Gallas is suffering with a niggling back problem.
Gallas' absence means Sol Campbell could be in line for a shock return to Champions League action alongside Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of the defence.
With Almunia unable to make the trip, Lukasz Fabianski is set to deputise between the posts as Arsenal look to gain a positive result to bring back to the Emirates for the second leg of their last-16 tie.
"Well ideally you wanted them there but I believe it is part of being in this competition, you focus on the players who play and not on those who don't play," Wenger told Sky Sports News.
"The real question is can you make a good result with all the players who don't go to Portugal and I am convinced yes, so let's focus on the players who play."
PossibilityWenger also gave a strong indication that Campbell will start in place of the injured Gallas as he is not a big fan of playing two left-footed defenders in central defence, appearing to rule out a start for Mikael Silvestre.
"It is a possibility that I don't rule out at the moment because if he doesn't play there it would mean we play with two left-footed players which I don't really like," added Wenger.
"What it means to him is that he can show his signing was worth to do it and he can help us to go through to the last eight."
Wenger also revealed he did not want to take a risk with Almunia as he struggles with a finger problem
"He [Almunia] had already a twisted finger and he had made it worse and I didn't want to take a gamble on it," noted Wenger.
Arsenal go into the game having had a week off and Wenger is glad of the rest after a recent hectic period for his side.
"I believe for us I think it was needed," continued Wenger
"People maybe do not realise how much demands were on the players to play so many big consecutive games - Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool and I just felt mentally the break was welcome for us."