Cesc doubt for Chelsea clash
Arsenal could again be without key midfielder Cesc Fabregas when they tackle fellow title contenders Chelsea.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 10/12/07 5:04pm
Arsenal could again be without key midfielder Cesc Fabregas when they tackle fellow title contenders Chelsea, live on Sky Sports 1.
The Emirates Stadium clash is the culmination of the eagerly-awaited Grand Slam Sunday, which also features Manchester United's mouth-watering trip to Liverpool.
Fabregas, who missed the draw with Newcastle and defeat by Middlesbrough which saw Arsenal's lead at the summit trimmed to just one point, continues to be troubled by a hamstring injury.
Fellow midfielder Mathieu Flamini (thigh) could be back in action against Avram Grant's side, while Robin van Persie (knee) and Abou Diaby (back) are making good progress.
But Alexander Hleb, the fifth player to miss the Gunners' miserable North East double, remains a major doubt with an Achilles problem.
Manager Arsene Wenger told the club's official website: "The one who has a realistic chance is Flamini.
"One who could be in the squad is Van Persie. Diaby could be in the squad as well. We don't know about Cesc and Hleb."
Defender Gael Clichy accepts that the pressure is now on the Gunners after they saw what could have been a six-point lead at the summit reduced to just one.
He admitted: "We knew the gap could have been six points if we had won against Newcastle. That was the first disappointment. But if you look at the game one point wasn't a bad result in the end. If we had won at Middlesbrough it would have been perfect.
"But now the gap has closed and we have to make something good against Chelsea because the pressure is on. We like the pressure but it would have been different with a win at Middlesbrough.
"It's a big week. That's why I'm saying it would be good if we could get all the players back from injury. I think we missed something at Middlesbrough.
"When you have players like Cesc, Robin, Alex and Mathieu in the side it is very different. We have the quality without those players so it's not an excuse. But of course we look forward to them coming back because with them we are stronger.
"I think everyone gave 100 per cent at Middlesbrough. It was just the pitch, the fact everyone was a bit tired and we didn't play the way we like to play.
"We have a strong squad and we are first and were playing well without five star players. It was a bit unlucky [to have so many out]. But we know with all these games we are going to get some injured players so we have to be focused now.
"All the games are big but of course Chelsea is a massive game. Plus with only the one-point gap between ourselves and Manchester United, and Chelsea only a few points away, we have to play a great game."