Song and Arshavin to miss Porto

You may have noticed that we have a free weekend ahead of us but already the spotlight has turned to next week’s Champions League clash with Porto. And this morning’s papers tell us that Arsene Wenger has been ‘dealt a devastating double injury blow’ ahead of the trip to Portugal.The Mirror reports that Andrey Arshavin has been ruled out for ten days after straining a hamstring against Liverpool and will miss Porto and is a major doubt for the Premier League clash with Sunderland.
The paper adds that Alex Song is also a doubt after damaging knee ligaments but AW is hoping that Song’s injury is not as bad as Arshavin’s but both would have been definite starters against Porto.
Song was in for treatment yesterday while Arshavin has already had a scan and AW said: “We have lost Alex Song with a medial knee ligament problem. I hope he will be available for next week but it is not for sure. Arshavin looks to be a hamstring problem. We have to assess that too.”
In the Sun Arshavin reckons we must find the perfect finish to land our first title since 2004. He declared: “If we want to be champions, we have to win all the 12 games we have left. It’s difficult to say if it can be done but it looks realistic. I liked the way we played against Liverpool. The whole team was well co-ordinated.”
Meanwhile, Arshavin was left cursing the remote control after missing Abou Diaby’s winner against Liverpool. He said: “I didn’t see the goal. I was in a room under the stands with the doctors and, while we were looking for the TV remote, Abou Diaby scored.”
Next up to have his say is Manuel Almunia who tells the Daily Star that Arsenal deserve all the stick they have been getting. “We accept all the critics,” said the Spaniard. “Arsenal are a big club and we deserve to be criticised because we have been  playing for many years without fighting for the title.
“The team are growing up and everybody accepts it because we cannot say anything when we don’t play well.  Against United, we were not on our game at any time. At Chelsea, we played well I thought, but as soon as we switched off a bit we lost. There are small points we need to improve. Not technically or tactically, but personally. If we are still in the title race, it is  because the other teams didn’t win. We will be back in the race if we win three or four games in a row.”
And the paper adds that vice-captain Almunia, 32, also revealed how he, former skipper William Gallas, 32, and Sol Campbell, 35, took it upon themselves to give their young  demoralised team-mates a pep talk before the Liverpool encounter.
He said: “We were talking about our last two games and we said it is impossible for a team who want to be top of the table not to show character on the pitch.
In the dressing room everyone was switched on to the game and personally I am happy with the character of the team. “We talked more with the players individually because they are young.  They are mature, but they need to be told things clearly.” Almunia also spoke of the importance of skipper Cesc Fabregas, who is continually being linked with a summer move to Barcelona. “For the supporters, Cesc is a symbol of the club,” he added. “For the people, he is the best.”
The Daily Mail runs a headline saying ‘It’s squeaky bum time, Carlo Ancelotti, as Manchester United and Arsenal join Chelsea in three-horse race…’ and the article asks 10 vital questions of the title hopefuls. No.8 asks ‘Can Arsenal pass their way to the title without a centre forward?’
Their answer: No, they can’t. They can beat anybody on their day and they can go on little spurts. But to win the Premier League you need to triumph in games in which you are second best from time to time and without a world-class centre forward that is going to be very difficult.
Robin van Persie’s absence this season has been a huge blow for Arsenal. With him, they would perhaps have six more points. Wenger says that Drogba isn’t as good as some people think . . . but he would still get in the Arsenal team.
Similarly, the Telegraph looks at our chances with ‘Arsenal’s ambitions of landing a first Premier League title since 2004 have been lifted following Chelsea and Manchester United’s midweek slip-ups. But have Arsene Wenger’s side got what it takes to overhaul their rivals and finish top of the pile?’
Well, on Monday morning we had no chance, apparently, but after the midweek matches.

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