Tuesday 16 January 2018

Gunners wait on Gibbs and Ramsey for Chapions League match

Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal in action against Sunderland on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal in action against Sunderland on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Hirst

ARSENAL’S injury problems deepened ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Marseille as Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey joined the club's lengthy absentee list yesterday.

Ramsey sat out the 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium with a hamstring problem and Gibbs suffered a stomach injury and had to be replaced by Andre Santos five minutes into the second half.

Gibbs' injury is of particular concern to Wenger as he is already without several key players in that area and the defenders who are fit have performed poorly.

Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna are currently out, Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have only just come back from injury, while Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson and Santos have all looked poor at times this year.

Wenger said: "Gibbs has an inflammation of his stomach muscles. He has a small chance of playing on Wednesday.

"Ramsey has a small chance of being in the squad. He had fatigue of his hamstring. I wanted to give him a breather - it would have been a gamble to play him."

Robin van Persie scored twice - the last of which was a brilliant free-kick- to grab all three points for Arsenal yesterday but their performance will have done little to silence the doubters who claim the north London side are a spent force.

Sebastian Larsson equalised the Dutchman's first-minute opener and Lee Cattermole had a glorious chance to put the struggling Black Cats ahead just before the break when he was gifted a close-range free header that he directed straight at Wojciech Szczesny.

Wenger's team endured a terrible start to the season, but are now up to 10th in the table.

Despite a nervous second half yesterday, the Frenchman feels his team are starting to gel well.

"We have now won five games on the run at home," Wenger said.

"I think the attitude and spirit of the team is great.

"The motivation is there, the quality is there, so slowly we are getting better."

Like Arsenal, Sunderland have made a poor start to the season, heaping the pressure on manager Steve Bruce.

The former Manchester United defender has seen his team collect just six points from their opening eight games and they now sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

Bruce says he is not worried about his side's poor form, however.

"I think we have only played badly once this year and that was against Norwich so we haven't got quite what we deserve," he said.

"That's the Premier League. Being beaten by a wonder goal by someone like Van Persie doesn't happen very often in other divisions.

"You can quite easily go six or seven games without getting points at this level.

"We must accept that and get on with it and keep believing that we will get better and that the results will come."

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