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Strike duo ruled out, but Almunia close to return

Robin Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor have been ruled out of Arsenal's game against Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Both strikers were substituted in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea at the weekend and it has now been revealed that Adebayor is suffering with a hamstring injury, with Van Persie picking up a groin problem. Nicklas Bendtner and fit-again Eduardo are tipped to start.

"Emmanuel Adebayor is rested. He has a little hamstring problem and we don't want to risk him," manager Arsene Wenger told reporters on Monday. "Van Persie has a little groin problem."

The Gunners are already suffering from injuries in defence, so the news of further woe for their attacking players will not be well received at the Emirates stadium.

However, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has handed the club a boost with the news that he will be ready to face Middlesbrough at the weekend, after a two-week absence due to an ankle injury picked up against Villarreal on April 7.

The Spaniard concedes he will not be fit to return to Wenger's squad for the game against title-chasing Liverpool, but expects to be ready to face relegation-threatened Boro five days later.

"The Liverpool game on Tuesday is a bit too early," Almunia said in the Daily Star. "But I'll be totally ready for Boro on Sunday."

The news will be welcomed by the Gunners fans as their first-choice shot-stopper should also be available for the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United a few days later.

Lukasz Fabianski has been standing in for Almunia but did not cover himself in glory in last weekend's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

The Poland international celebrated his birthday at Wembley but his shaky afternoon took a disastrous turn late on when he rushed recklessly off his line, allowing Didier Drogba to round him easily and send Chelsea through to the final.

The stand-in keeper will play against Liverpool; while manager Arsene Wenger is more cautious over Almunia's availability for the huge game against United, stating: "We don't know. I don't know, personally."

Wenger has also jumped to the defence of the under-fire Fabianski, claiming his 2007 signing from Legia Warsaw could yet to prove one of Europe's finest goalkeepers.

"I would not like to put too much responsibility for this defeat on Fabianski. It would be unfair," said Wenger. "Let's see him recover and not speak too much about what he has done.

"I believe he will be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has the talent, he is brave, he is intelligent. Technically he is very good.

"He was not at his best against Chelsea, but we have to accept that. It can happen to anyone - it happened to [Petr] Cech on Tuesday."


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