Football

Hamstrung

Arsenal's injury woes deepen with Ramsey facing spell on sidelines with hamstring problem

ARSENAL v NEWCASTLE

(Tomorrow, 1.30am, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)

Manager Arsene Wenger says it is too early to suggest how long Arsenal will be without midfielder Aaron Ramsey because of a hamstring problem.

The Wales international netted a superb 30-metre strike in the 4-1 Champions League win over Galatasaray in Instanbul on Tuesday, but came off at half-time as a precaution.

Speaking after the match in Turkey, Ramsey was confident he would be fit to face Newcastle in the Premier League tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

However, Gunners boss Wenger confirmed yesterday morning the 23-year-old was set for a spell on the sidelines.

The Frenchman said: "We got the scan last night, I don't know enough to give the extent of his injury."

Arsenal are already without England midfielder Jack Wilshere for several weeks with ankle ligament damage, and it remains to be seen how much of the hectic Christmas schedule Ramsey will now miss.

Ramsey's brilliant effort against Galatasaray, when he fired the ball back into the top corner after it was cleared from a corner, was greeted by disbelief from teammates Yaya Sanogo and Wojciech Szczesny, while also sparking debate over great goals on social media.

Wenger admitted in his post-match press conference that he had felt Ramsey's decision to shoot from such range was not the best idea, only to be glad to be proved wrong.

"He was getting close to it (the form of last season)," said Wenger of the midfielder whose goal in extra-time helped beat Hull to win May's FA Cup final at Wembley.

"It is a great goal and unexpected as well, a surprising one. Even he was surprised that it went so well.

"Aaron has a good finishing technique and he's not frightened to take his chances - and he took it very well."

Defenders Laurent Koscielny (calf), Nacho Monreal (ankle) and Calum Chambers (suspended) are all unavailable for the match against in-form Newcastle, so right back Mathieu Debuchy could be asked to move over to centre half, the France international having just recovered from three months out with an ankle problem.

Wenger, though, feels if all of his rearguard are fully fit come next month, then he will not need to dip into the transfer market for reinforcements in that area of the squad.

He said: "If everybody is fit and available, we don't need to go on the transfer market, but we have to consider that there could be a question mark with Koscielny's fitness and we have to go out on the transfer market."

Wenger will again look to confound his critics if the Gunners beat in-form Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow morning.

The Frenchman was jeered by a small group of Arsenal fans as he boarded a train following his team's 2-3 defeat by Stoke City last Saturday, in scenes widely condemned within the football community.

That loss meant Wenger's side were unable to take advantage of league leaders Chelsea's first defeat of the season and left the north London club in sixth spot, 13 points adrift of the Blues.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew fears the abuse levelled at Wenger last week could make his side's task harder at the Emirates, because the vast majority of Arsenal fans will want to show their backing for the manager.

"I think 99 per cent of Arsenal fans would have been ashamed of what happened and we could get the backlash from it," Pardew said.

"They will want to show him how much they love him."

Pardew was disgusted by the way Wenger was targeted after the defeat by Stoke, which saw Arsenal come close to completing a comeback after falling 0-3 down.

"It was total disrespect," said Pardew. "This is a guy who has done an unbelievable job and the stadium should have been named after him.

"When they moved houses (stadiums), they couldn't have competed in the Champions League without him being so astute in the transfer market.

"Bearing in mind the debt they had when they first moved in, he has done an absolutely marvellous job.

"He's had a couple of difficult results recently, but Arsene will get through it as every manager does."

Newcastle are the Premier League's form team following their 2-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend, which left them level on points with Arsenal in seventh place.

They will be without Moussa Sissoko and Steven Taylor because of suspension, while 21-year-old goalkeeper Jak Alnwick will start a league game for the first time because of injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot. - Wire Services.

ARSENAL'S INJURY LIST

  • Aaron Ramsey (hamstring)
  • Laurent Koscielny (calf)
  • Nacho Monreal (ankle)
  • Mikel Arteta (calf)
  • Theo Walcott (groin)
  • Mesut Oezil (knee)
  • David Ospina (thigh)
  • Abou Diaby (calf)
  • Jack Wilshere (ankle)

SUSPENDED

  • Calum Chambers