Thursday, 1 April 2010

Arshavin and Fabregas both crocked. Did the great draw with Barca bring Arsenal's season crashing down?

ANDREI ARSHAVIN has just announced on his official website that he will be out "for two or three weeks" with the calf injury he picked up at the pulsating Emirates Stadium last night.

And after their incredible 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League, Cesc Fabregas admitted: "I am not good. I fear the worst - I broke something."

This morning's reports suggest Fabregas converted the equalising penalty with a broken fibula, the smaller bone in the shin. And there is a growing realisation that the epic comeback may just have been the last hurrah of an Arsenal season which promised so much.

Without Arshavin and Fabregas, and with Robin Van Persie still out, how can Arsenal expect to challenge for the Premier League title? Or win at the Nou Camp?

On March 31, they were outplayed for an hour - more so than most of us can ever remember on their home patch - and on April 1, Gooners everywhere are admitting to feeling a little foolish.

Yes, Theo Walcott did well to put them back in the game. His searing pace and well-taken goal might even push him into the World Cup squad.

Sure, Alex Song and Samir Nasri did more than the great Lionel Messi. And Nicklas Bendtner's ball to set up the Walcott goal was quite unexpected. Manuel Almunia certainly emerges with a significantly enhanced reputation, making at least five great saves.

And we all know that both Barca's centre-backs, Pique and Puyol, will be out. But only the most one-eyed Arsenal fan (and Arsene Wenger) truly expects a miracle at the Nou Camp.

And they go into the weekend clash with Wolves without Fabregas, Arshavin and William Gallas. Wenger gambled when he allowed all three to play despite injuries. That heart-over-head philosophy has backfired.

Arshavin said on his website today: "Perhaps, I won’t be able to come out on the pitch for another two or three weeks. This is a new injury for me, not an old one.

"The other guys will try to play to win. I didn't see the comeback I was with the doctors. Now I can say only one thing: Arsenal footballers, without doubt, showed their character. Barcelona had a good start, but we found our way back."

But at what cost? Fabregas said: "We have to wait but I hope I will be able to wear the Arsenal shirt again this season.

"I took the penalty quite strong and after that I went to get the ball and then I couldn't walk any more.2

Ardent Gooners fear the next time they see Fabregas in action, he will be wearing a Barca shirt. And contract-seeking Gallas may play his next game in Roma colours. With the Arsenal trophy cabinet left gathering dust for a SIXTH successive years.

Say it ain't so, Arsene.

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