Arsenal have been dealt a frustrating injury blow with news that Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen will miss the rest of the campaign.
Vermaelen suffered an Achilles injury while on international duty in September and was only thought to be out for a few weeks.
But he was forced to undergo surgery on the problem in January and recently suffered another tendon injury – ruling him out for the remainder of the season.
Arsene Wenger told the club’s website: “For Thomas Vermaelen the season is over.
“In fairness he has not played since September, I never expected him to be fit before the end of the season.
“He is not out on the field yet and it is impossible (for him to play) after six months without competition.
“I am confident he will have a full recovery but for this season we cannot rely on him.”
Arsenal are also without defender Johan Djourou sidelined for the next six weeks.
And Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott will both miss this weekend’s clash against West Brom Arsenal look to recover a faltering season that has seen them knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League in the past week.
They also lost the recent League Cup Final against Birmingham City but are still in contention in the Premier League, sitting three points behind Man United in second place.