Season over for Vermaelen

Arsene Wenger revealed Arsenal will have to continue their title battle without Thomas Vermaelen who will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

The Gunners travel to face relegation candidates West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and they will be aiming for a win to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Wenger’s side are three points back in second place, but with a game in hand over United.

However, injuries have hit hard with long-term absentee Vermaelen now ruled out for the remainder of the season, while Johan Djourou is also expected to miss much of the run-in due to a shoulder injury.

“For Vermaelen the season is over,” Wenger said.

“In fairness he has not played since September, I never expected him to be fit before the end of the season.”

“Johan Djourou is out for at least six weeks. There’s a little chance (that he will play again this season), he has an arthroscopy on Monday and we will know more about the damage in his shoulder.”

Last time Arsenal faced West Brom they went down 3-2 at home, and Wenger is expecting another challenging affair when they travel to the Hawthorns.

“West Brom are still a footballing side,” Wenger said.

“They will still play, of course, with the idea that they can go down and we will play with the desire to get to the top.”

Captain Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) misses the trip to the Hawthorns while Theo Walcott will not be available because of an ankle problem.

Walcott will also be ruled out of England’s European Championship qualifier against Wales on March 26.

Wenger feels his team are in a strong position to claim their 14th league title, despite being dumped out of three cup competitions since February 27.

“The atmosphere has not been at the highest level, but mathematically the title is in ours or Man United’s hands.”