Arsene Wenger will be without a trio of key players when Arsenal travel to the Britannia Stadium for a stiff test against FA Cup finalists Stoke City on Sunday.
Talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas will again miss out having missed last weekend’s victory over Manchester United with a thigh problem, and creative midfielder Samir Nasri will also be unavailable after hobbling out at the interval against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men with a hamstring injury.
The pair are joined on the sidelines by Abou Diaby, who continues to be hampered by a calf injury sustained in the 3-3 draw with Tottenham.
"Diaby, Nasri and Fabregas will be out," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.
"Nasri and Fabregas have a little chance for Aston Villa but not for Stoke."
Other doubts for the Potteries clash include Gael Clichy and Johan Djourou, although the latter underwent tests yesterday which pleased his manager.
"Johan Djourou had a test yesterday that looked quite positive," added Wenger.
"We have a doubt about Clichy's hamstring. He had a test that was not completely satisfactory, both have a chance to be fit."
Aaron Ramsey is set to return to the ground where he suffered a horror leg break in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory last season and will fill the boots of Fabregas in midfield after netting the winner against Manchester United.
The 20-year-old could well be joined on the pitch by Thomas Vermaelen, who hasn’t figured for the Gunners since August.
Wenger added: "Thomas Vermaelen is available and could be in the squad. Aaron Ramsey is likely to get another chance; I can even say that he will play."