Arsenal news

Van Persie named in Arsenal squad

March 7, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Robin van Persie has made a shock comeback in training ahead of Arsenal's Champions League tie against Barcelona on Tuesday, but Arsene Wenger says he will not take a "gamble" on the striker's fitness.

Robin van Persie
GettyImagesRobin van Persie trained on Monday.

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Van Persie had been ruled out of the trip to Camp Nou after injuring his knee while scoring against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final last month. But pictures released on the club's official website showed Van Persie participating in full training on Monday.

The player has travelled with his team-mates to Spain but Wenger, who said he was "very bad at mind games" when it was suggested the news could be a bluff, will give Van Persie a fitness test on Tuesday morning before deciding whether he will play any part in the tie.

"He is here as a player and will have a test tomorrow," Wenger said. "Whether he has been included in the squad has not yet been decided.

"He has made quick progression in the last three days. This morning he was unlikely to travel, but he wanted to go, so he had a test and it was quite positive.

"We will not take a gamble in a game of such importance. It will be fit or not fit. Personally I would like him to play if possible, but I will only play him if he is 100% fit.''

Cesc Fabregas, a former youth player with Barca, has also declared himself fit after suffering a hamstring injury that prevented him from playing in the 0-0 draw with Sunderland on Saturday, as well as the Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham.

Fabregas, who missed the second leg at Camp Nou last season due to a broken leg, had earlier on Monday been rated as 90% likely to play by his manager.

"My fitness is good," Fabregas said. "For the last six days I haven't felt anything ... it was a very, very small thing that I had. I know that I am good if selected to play."

News of Van Persie's possible availability has been welcomed by Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who also joked that perhaps the injured Theo Walcott and Alex Song could also return in time.

"I would like Song to play; maybe there could be a private flight for Walcott to come in at the last minute - you never know,'' Guardiola said. "I want all the great players to play, everyone against everyone and see a great show tomorrow.

"I hope they are all in the team - Van Persie, [Samir] Nasri, Cesc, because I would like to play the best possible Arsenal. If Van Persie plays, then no problem. It is good for the team and good for everyone. If he cannot, then Arsenal have a squad with players at a great level.

"Arsenal have many alternatives, are very dynamic and can play in different positions, their counter-attack is great. We will try to prevent that."

Van Persie has been included in a 19-man squad, which will be cut to 18 ahead of Tuesday's game at Camp Nou.

Arsenal squad:

Manuel Almunia, Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, Sebastien Squillaci, Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri, Abou Diaby, Denilson, Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, Robin van Persie.