Van Persie in Arsenal squad for Spurs clash

LONDON - Robin van Persie will return to Arsenal’s squad for their north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said on Tuesday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 13 Apr 2010, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:53 AM

The Dutch striker has been out of action for five months after rupturing ankle ligaments on international duty and Wenger is not alone in thinking the Gunners might be even closer to leaders Chelsea than three points behind with five matches left but for the forward’s injury.

Van Persie returned to training last week and was expected to be available for third-placed Arsenal’s final trio of matches against Manchester City, Blackburn and Fulham as they push to win the English Premier League title.

But Wenger has judged he is ready to return against Spurs, with the French manager saying he would be involved against Tottenham, most probably starting from the bench.

‘He will feature,’ Wenger said. ‘He lacks a bit of match practice but when I pick a player it means he’s fit and sharp.’

Wenger admitted he was taking a risk in bringing back van Persie, having lost William Gallas for the season when he came back too soon in the Champions League first leg against Barcelona.

‘There is always a gamble in this kind of decision. But in his (an Persie’s) case we have been a bit more cautious because he has had more time for preparation.

‘The biggest gamble I took recently was with Gallas. It didn’t work, but he came back from a muscular problem, that is not the case for Robin. It was a joint problem.

‘When I pick a player it means he is fit and sharp and has worked very hard. Of course he lacks match-practice but physically he is ready, he is fit.

‘He is a very important player for this club,’ Wenger added. ‘He is important for the confidence. He can make the final ball, he is good on set-pieces, he can score goals, so we are very happy to have him back. The sadness was that we lost him so early in the season.’

At the other end of the pitch, veteran Arsenal central defender Sol Campbell - now in his second spell with the Gunners - is set to start against his old club in a match where he is likely to face plenty of taunts from Spurs fans.

‘Sol has been a big support for me and the squad,’ Wenger said. ‘He is very important in the dressing room because he is highly focused and highly motivated. Every time he has played he has turned in a very good performance. It is one of the good signings I have made.’

Wednesday’s clash at Tottenham’s home ground will see Harry Redknapp’s men try to bounce back from the disappointment of last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Portsmouth at Wembley as fifth-placed Spurs try to secure a top four finish that would guarantee Champions League football next season.

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