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Page last updated at 07:22 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 08:22 UK

Robin Van Persie returns to Arsenal squad at Tottenham


Wenger welcomes Van Persie back

Robin van Persie will return to the Arsenal squad for Wednesday's crucial Premier League derby at Tottenham.

The Dutchman, 26, hit eight goals in 11 games before damaging ankle ligaments playing for the Netherlands last year.

He starts on the bench but boss Arsene Wenger said: "He will feature. He lacks a bit of match practice but when I pick a player it means he's fit and sharp."

Arsenal are six points behind leaders Chelsea, while Spurs can move within a point of Manchester City in fourth.

Chelsea have a far superior goal difference over Arsenal, so any result other than victory would be a potentially fatal blow to the Gunners' title aspirations.

Tottenham have the chance to boost their Champions League hopes as they play their game in hand over Manchester City.

Spurs ready for massive game - Redknapp

Former Spurs defender Sol Campbell is also in line to make an appearance against his former club, and is likely to be given a rough ride by the home supporters.

Campbell quit the White Hart Lane club to join Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001 and the Tottenham faithful have never forgiven him.

He is in his second spell with Arsenal, having also played for Portsmouth and Notts County, and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp says he cannot prevent fans from venting their anger towards the ex-England player.

"I'm sure he will get some grief. It is no good me sitting here and saying that he won't," Redknapp said.

"They (the fans) pay their money and they are going to do what they want to do, aren't they? I just hope they don't do anything silly or shout anything silly."

Victory for Arsenal would see them leapfrog Manchester United into second place, but in Van Persie's absence, they have scored an average of only 1.77 goals per league game, as opposed to 3.26 before his injury.

The Dutchman, who scored twice in Arsenal's 3-0 win against Spurs earlier this season, has missed 31 games in all competitions but his rehabilitation went according to plan and Wenger was impressed by the physical condition he was in when he returned to the club from the Netherlands.


Van Persie maintained his fitness through swimming and gym work and, once the ankle had completely healed, he began training with amateur side AFC Amsterdam.

He has now been doing ball work for several weeks and shooting with full force as well as taking part in sprinting drills and his return is also good news for the Dutch national team ahead of this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

On his comeback at White Hart Lane, Wenger added: "There's always a gamble in such decisions but we have been a bit cautious in his case. But Van Persie is a very important player at this club. He is important for the confidence."

After Tottenham, Arsenal face Wigan, Manchester City, Blackburn and Fulham as they bid to win their first trophy since 2005 and a first Premier League title since 2004.

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see also
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
14 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Van Persie to begin full training
09 Apr 10 |  Arsenal
Van Persie faces five months out
28 Nov 09 |  Arsenal
Arsenal rocked by Djourou knee op
06 Sep 09 |  Arsenal
Van Persie signs new Arsenal deal
08 Jul 09 |  Arsenal

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