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Apr 13, 2010

Van Persie ready to return against Tottenham

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie will return from injury in Wednesday night's north London derby with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

Robin van Persie returns.

Van Persie has been on the sidelines since suffering ankle ligament damage following a challenge by Italy's Giorgio Chiellini in an international friendly last November, but will play some part against the Gunners' London rivals from the bench.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he is taking a ''gamble'' in bringing the striker back ahead of schedule but insists Arsenal have missed Van Persie's goal power this season.

Wenger, who lost William Gallas for the season when he came back too soon in the Champions League first leg against Barcelona, said: ''There is always a gamble in this kind of decision. But in his (Van 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.''

Wenger believes Arsenal's title challenge would be several points better off but for Van Persie's injury.

''He is a very important player for this club,'' said Wenger. ''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.''

The Dutch striker returned to full training last week and although he was expected to make his first-team comeback against Manchester City at the end of the month he is now set to bolster the Gunners' forward line against their arch rivals.

The loss of Van Persie was a huge blow to Arsenal in their challenge for the Premier League title. He had netted seven goals in 11 Premier League starts before the ankle injury.

Arsenal have had to rely on the goals of Francesc Fabregas - he has bagged 15 in the league this term - to fill the void with Nicklas Bendtner only managing five goals over the league campaign. But with captain Fabregas now out for the rest of the season the return of Van Persie will be a timely boost.

Bendtner is delighted that Van Persie is back. "It will be great to have him back," Bendtner told the club's official website. "He had a nasty injury and he has been working really hard in training to get back and if we can have him available for the last games - obviously being out for that long takes a bit of time - but if we can have him available it is a boost for us."

Wenger also confirmed defender Sol Campbell would play from the start against his former club and at a ground where he is bound to receive a hostile reception. He also said he believes Campbell has been one of the keys to Arsenal's continued title surge.

''Sol has been a big support for me and the squad,'' he 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.

''I have no concerns about him. He will play tomorrow. I didn't imagine he would play as many games as he has. I thought he would play in one or two games maybe but he got those extra matches because he played well.''

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