Arsenal are awaiting the results of a scan on Robin van Persie’s knee. It is feared that the striker could miss next week’s trip to Barcelona for the second leg of the club’s Champions League last-16 tie.
The Dutch striker damaged his knee in the act of scoring his team’s equaliser against Birmingham City in Sunday’s 2-1 Carling Cup final defeat. Van Persie will be assessed today and he will be a major doubt for the Barcelona game if he turns out to have suffered ligament damage. With Theo Walcott already out of the Barça game and Cesc Fábregas trying to prove his fitness after a hamstring injury, the possible absence of Arsenal’s main striker could not come at a worse time.
His team-mates, however, have vowed not to let their Wembley defeat derail the pursuit of the season’s bigger trophies, as thoughts turn to the three prizes for which the team are still competing. Arsenal play Leyton Orient at the Emirates Stadium in an FA Cup replay and will face Barcelona at the Camp Nou holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg. In the Premier League they are four points behind the leaders, Manchester United, with 11 games to play. They might also take heart from the fact that United still have to visit Chelsea, Liverpool and the Emirates, where Sunderland visit on Saturday.
“Mentally the cup final was a huge blow but we really have to focus on our other targets now,” said the striker Marouane Chamakh. “We’re lucky that we can play again straight away [against Orient]. We have to forget the final quickly and make sure that the defeat doesn’t stay on our minds. We will bounce back. We still have a lot of big games to play and we will fight on until the end.”
The midfielder Tomas Rosicky said: “We’ve three trophies to go for and we need to pick ourselves up immediately. We’ve got a game on Wednesday and we have to perform. The season doesn’t finish now, we are still in a good position in other competitions and so we have to forget the Carling Cup and concentrate on the other stuff.”
Arsenal’s irritation by their Wembley defeat was reflected by Jack Wilshere, who revealed his annoyance at how Barry Ferguson had ruffled Laurent Koscielny’s hair after his mix-up with Wojciech Szczesny led to the winning goal. “Well done to the BCFC player who slapped Koscielny on the head when they scored, very big of you,” Wilshere said, on Twitter. Birmingham have not yet commented on the matter.