Robin Van Persie out of Barca clash but Cesc Fabregas possible

LONDON Tue Mar 1, 2011 7:04pm GMT

Robin van Persie of Arsenal celebrates scoring against Barcelona during their Champions League match at the Emirates stadium in north London, February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Robin van Persie of Arsenal celebrates scoring against Barcelona during their Champions League match at the Emirates stadium in north London, February 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - Netherlands striker Robin van Persie will miss Arsenal's Champions League last-16 match clash against Barcelona next week with a knee injury while captain Cesc Fabregas could return, Arsenal said on Tuesday.

Van Persie was injured as he scored the equaliser in Sunday's League Cup final which Arsenal eventually lost 2-1 to Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium.

Although he scored in the 39th minute, he carried on playing until the 69th when he was replaced by Nicklas Bendtner.

Manager Arsene Wenger's week got worse after Van Persie's scan revealed he would be out for at least three weeks, although the possible return of Fabregas would be a timely boost.

The Arsenal skipper came off against Stoke City last week with a hamstring injury which kept him out of Sunday's match.

Referring to Van Persie's injury, Wenger said: "Unfortunately, we had bad news on the scan.

"The shortest delay we can imagine is three weeks so he is definitely out for Barcelona. It could be longer.

"Cesc is looking possible. He is making quick and good progress. It is possible," Wenger said of Fabregas, adding another certain absentee would be winger Theo Walcott.

The London club take a 2-1 advantage to Spain for the return on March 8 after Van Persie and Andrei Arshavin scored in the first leg to give Arsenal victory after David Villa had put Barcelona ahead in the first half.

As well as still being involved in Europe's premier competition, the Gunners are challenging domestically for both the FA Cup and the Premier League.

On Wednesday they play League One (third division) Leyton Orient in a fifth-round replay for a chance to play Manchester United at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals.

Both goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny, involved in the last-gasp blunder that gifted Birmingham the trophy on Sunday, will miss the replay.

"Koscielny has a tight hamstring. There is a little bit of fatigue in there as well so we will give him a breather," said Wenger.

"(Manuel) Almunia needs games so he will play but Wojciech is alright and will be on the bench."

(Editing by Mike Collett and Alan Baldwin)

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