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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Arsene Wenger's hidden gem

Arsenal
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Wenger confirms Cesc absence

Arsene Wenger has reiterated that Cesc Fabregas has no chance of playing in the Carling Cup final and said Theo Walcott is likely to miss the second leg of Arsenal's Champions League tie with Barcelona.

Carling Cup final preview
Fabregas 'would be fit'
Fabregas makes fitness vow
• Wenger defends signing of Toral

Wenger had already said Fabregas had no chance of playing against Birmingham on Sunday, but the player's personal trainer claimed he would be fit to play.

The Arsenal manager, though, has said there is no possibility of his captain leading the side out at Wembley.

"You cannot play football when you're injured," he said. "He's sad and disappointed but it could have been worse the injury - it's a very small one. We have many targets in front of us so it is important he is not out for longer."

Asked how long he would be absent, Wenger replied: "One or two games maybe."

Wenger confirmed Robin van Persie will be available to face Birmingham on Sunday and will take the captaincy. "The vice-captain is Robin van Persie," he said. "He's back."

While Fabregas looks likely to make a swift return, Walcott - stretchered off in the victory over Stoke this week - has little hope of facing Barcelona in the Camp Nou on March 8.

Asked how long Walcott was likely to be sidelined, Wenger said: "I believe it will be two to three weeks.

"I would say today it is very unlikely he will be fit for the second leg of the Barcelona game. I imagine the worst so maybe I will be surprised in a positive way but I just give you my gut feeling at the moment."

Wenger stressed, though, that he believes his squad had the necessary depth to cope with injuries as they challenge on four fronts.

"I believe what is important now is that the squad focuses on the game we want to play on Sunday," he said. "I ideally want everybody fit but you know you can have some players injured and we can deal with it.

"I'm delighted we have a squad to deal with the number of players injured. We have shown that in the last few months. We have belief, confidence, we are committed and determined to overcome the last hurdle and win the Carling Cup. That is what we focus on."

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