Gunners hit by triple blow
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Freddie Ljungberg, Emmanuel Eboue and Julio Baptista have all suffered injuries.
Arsenal have been hit by a triple injury blow with the news that Freddie Ljungberg, Emmanuel Eboue and Julio Baptista will all miss Saturday's Premiership clash with Watford and the following Tuesday's trip to face CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.
The international break has taken its toll on The Gunners, with perhaps the most serious fitness concern afflicting flying right back Eboue as he picked up medial ligament damage after joining up with the Ivory Coast squad for their African Cup of Nations qualifier against Gabon.
The 23-year-old will now be on the sidelines for up to a month, meaning he could also potentially miss the domestic games against Reading, West Brom and Everton and CSKA's return trip to Emirates Stadium on November 1.
Swedish captain Ljungberg also picked up a calf problem during his national service and, whilst the London club are still awaiting news of a scan, it looks likely that Alexander Hleb will have a free run at the right-wing position in The Gunners' next two games.
Brazilian loan star Baptista, the third member of the injured triumvirate, sustained a hamstring problem in a reserve game with Charlton in midweek and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the Real Madrid man - and his two team-mates - will be sitting out the next two games at least.
"Unfortunately when you have so many players away you can have some bad news," Wenger told the club's official website.
"At the moment we have three injuries. They will be out for Saturday and Tuesday for sure.
"Freddie Ljungberg has a calf injury, he has a scan today.
"Emmanuel Eboue has an injury to his medial knee ligaments. He will be out for three to four weeks.
"We have also lost Julio Baptista in training with a hamstring injury. He will be out for a while as well."
Eboue's absence is the most pressing concern as Arsenal are also waiting to see what shape William Gallas comes back in after his exertions for France, and Justin Hoyte is likely to deputise in the young African's absence.
With a number of defenders sidelined the opportunity could arise for either Gael Clichy or Philippe Senderos - both of whom played in the 2-1 win over Charlton - to make their long awaited comebacks, but Wenger is wary of throwing the duo back into action too quickly.
"They are making good progress," said Wenger about his promising pair. "But I don't know when they will be in the team.
"They could be in the squad for one of the two games. But they are still a little bit short really."