Vermaelen could miss rest of season

Thomas Vermaelen is likely to miss the rest of the season with a calf injury, another blow to Arsenal’s diminishing Premier League title hopes.

The Belgium defender left after 19 minutes during Wednesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, which left third-place Arsenal six points behind league-leading Chelsea with four games left.

"It looks like three weeks and that means the season is over for him," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Thursday.

With William Gallas also sidelined and Johan Djourou not yet ready to return from his long-standing knee problem, Arsenal may have to rely on veterans Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre.

The Gunners also are without Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey, who all are injured. Wenger said midfielder Denilson had a tight groin, which will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s game at Wigan.

The only good health news for Arsenal was the return of Robin van Persie, who entered in the 68th minute, his first appearance since tearing right ankle ligaments Nov. 14 while playing for the Netherlands and getting tackled by Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

"He came back very well," Wenger said. "We have to check him today and we see how he responds to that. It was a massive gamble as he had not played. But we’ll see how he is and, hopefully, he’ll get a few games now."