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Premier League's best youngsters are English

Tactics and Analysis 11 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Mar 15, 2011

Arsenal dispute Djourou diagnosis

Arsenal expect Johan Djourou to miss the rest of the campaign despite reports emanating from Switzerland that the defender could be fit to play again this season.

• Lehmann in talks over return
• Adams: Wenger mad to court Lehmann?

A statement from the Swiss Football Association on Tuesday had suggested the dislocated shoulder Djourou sustained in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Manchester United on Saturday wasn't as bad as first feared.

The Swiss FA claimed Djourou could feature in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria on March 26, reporting the 24-year-old "had new hope that his season is not over yet'' as initial tests showed there were no fractures, while ligament damage was indicated "not to be in a serious condition''.

But after more scans conducted by Arsenal's medical team, it is thought Djourou will have corrective surgery this week. The confirmation of Djourou's absence is another blow as Wenger looks to salvage a campaign which is in danger of falling apart once more.

After suffering Carling Cup final heartache at Wembley, the Gunners then crashed out of Europe in Barcelona before losing at Old Trafford as fighting on four fronts suddenly became just one.

Nevertheless, Arsenal still have the destiny of the Barclays Premier League crown in their own hands, just three points behind United but with a match in hand ahead and a crunch showdown with the Red Devils at the Emirates Stadium to come on May 1.

Given Thomas Vermaelen has yet to feature since the end of August because of a niggling Achilles injury, Arsenal will head to West Brom with Sebastian Squillaci set to partner Laurent Koscielny in a defensive pairing which so far has proved less than effective.

Midfielder Alex Song (knee) has already been ruled out, while captain Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and England winger Theo Walcott (ankle) are not expected to feature at The Hawthorns.

Striker Nicklas Bendtner - again linked with a move away from Arsenal, this time to Blackburn - should be available after missing the United trip with sickness.

There could be an old familiar face in the Gunners squad once more this weekend should a deal be completed for Jens Lehmann to make a return.

The former Germany goalkeeper, 41, left Arsenal in 2008, but is in talks over a short-term deal to help the club through an injury crisis, with confirmation of his return expected later this week, probably when Wenger holds his scheduled pre-match press conference at their Hertfordshire base on Thursday.

Lukasz Fabianski has been ruled out until the end of the season because of a shoulder problem, while Wojciech Szczesny has been sidelined by an injured finger which he picked up in the Champions League loss to Barcelona, leaving Manuel Almunia as the only fit senior keeper.

UEFA, meanwhile, are set to rule on their disciplinary case against both Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri on Thursday. While the Gunners boss will not attend personally, the club have submitted their observations.

Wenger and Nasri have each been charged for using "inappropriate language'' towards Swiss referee Massimo Busacca after the final whistle at the Nou Camp, where Arsenal lost 3-1 after having striker Robin van Persie controversially sent off.

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