Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed on Tuesday that Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas will be out of action for four months after suffering a partial rupture of his medial knee ligament in Sunday’s draw against Liverpool.
Fabregas suffered the injury in a challenge with Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso and limped off at halftime at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger initially hoped Fabregas would only be out for three weeks, but scans confirmed the Spain midfielder won’t play again before April.
“The news is not good,” Wenger said. “It will take three to four months, we count four. He will be working hard to come back earlier, but I count four months. The challenge by Alonso was fair and honest, I have no problem with it. It is exactly what I have said many times, it is the kind of thing you accept in the game that can happen. I don’t feel there was any intention to hurt, it was purely accidental.”
The loss of his recently installed skipper and creative talisman is a massive blow to Wenger as he tries to end Arsenal’s four-year wait for a trophy.
He was already short of experienced midfielders after losing Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto Silva and Alexander Hleb in pre-season, while Tomas Rosicky has been injured for the whole of the current campaign.
“We will miss him, of course, but how much is difficult to say,” Wenger said. “We have to find a way and we want to find a way to compensate the fact that he is not on the pitch, to give everyone a bit more. I’m sure we can deal with it. When he comes back he can help us get over the line in the final months. I believe we are able to do it.”
Wenger, whose side face a crucial match at Aston Villa tomorrow, conceded the Fabregas injury may force him to move into the transfer market next month.
“It is more likely, but we also have internal solutions and we are not desperate,” he said. “At the moment no one is going out and no one is coming in. That gives you a perfect answer. Now we have a big game in front of us and, before January anyway, I believe it is more important to focus on our games.”
A bid for Zenit St Peterburg’s Russian midfielder Andrei Arshavin is one possibility for Wenger, who is yet to decide who will replace Fabregas as captain.
Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia wore the armband when Fabregas came off against Liverpool and would be the leading candidate.
“It is a good opportunity to show we can deal with it and have strength,” said Wenger, who played down talk of a Manchester City bid for Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure.
Meanwhile, Wenger is furious with former referee Graham Poll after he backed Howard Webb’s decision to send off Emmanuel Adebayor for a barge on Liverpool’s Alvaro Arbeloa on Sunday, as well as defending England captain John Terry’s red card against Everton for fouling Leon Osman on Monday.
“For me it was embarrassing when you listen to that,” Wenger said. “They ask whether it was a sending-off or not. He says you have to consider that you are sending off the captain of the national team. What has that got to do with the rulebook? The rulebook doesn’t look at passports. When you listen to that, it is embarrassing for the referees. Is it a sending-off or not? Are you from England or not from England? Are you 17 or 30? It has nothing to do with that.”