Champions League – Team news: Van Persie out


Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has been ruled out of the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Villarreal with a groin injury.

FOOTBALL 2008-2009 Premier League Arsenal Robin van Persie - 0

However, Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott have been passed fit for the clash at El Madrigal after a virus and knee injury respectively.

Midfielder Andrei Arshavin is ineligible having played for Zenit St Petersburg during the group stages. Striker Eduardo (groin) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) remain sidelined, while long-term absentee Tomas Rosicky continues his recovery.

Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal are playing well enough to take control of the tie on Tuesday night.

The Gunners struggled for consistency in the early part of the season but they have been in fine form of late and have not been beaten in the Premier League since November.

Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-0 on Saturday and Wenger is looking forward to his men producing another good performance at El Madrigal.

“I believe it is always good to win before you go into another big game. It lifts the confidence and belief of the team a bit more,” he said.

“We are on a good run and we feel we are consistent, which is a good basis to go into a Champions League game.”

Arsenal scraped past Villarreal 1-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the 2005/6 competition and Wenger is confident of progressing to the last four once again.

Wenger believes his players have become mentally stronger this season and will approach Tuesday’s first leg in the right manner.

He explained: “In Europe you want total focus and we have learned to treat every game with a lot of respect and a lot of commitment.

“We have also learned from our 2006 semi-final that with Villarreal you face a tough game and that is why we prepare ourselves to be at our best.”

Villarreal are without the injured Spanish international midfielder Santi Cazorla, but are otherwise at full strength.

Robert Pires should start on the left side of midfield against the team he left after losing the 2006 Champions League final. The Frenchman was sent off in Villarreal’s 3-0 defeat to Almeria at the weekend.

Another former Gunner, defender Pascal Cygan, is expected to be on the bench for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Spain star Marcos Senna anchors the midfield, while former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi is in good scoring form.

Sporting Life / Eurosport

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