Arsenal's captain has a much worse prognosis than anticipated and could be out for three weeks. It is the problem hamstring once again. He's a definite out for the Carling Cup fixture along with Theo Walcott and both remain in serious doubt for the Barca return leg.
Further updates on the status of Robin Van Persie (hamstring) and Laurent Koscielny (back) will be available Friday.
With these injuries Wenger has to juggle his squad to play both Birmingham and Barca. But his priority is to ensure as fit a squad for the Barca return to maximize the chances of CL progression.
Much has been made of the first chance at meaningful silverware since 2005 but Arsenal are quite capable of pulling off a win on Sunday without the four injured players available. Andrey Arshavin seems to have regained some of his old joie de vivre which should pose problems for Birmingham. Hopefully Tomas Rosicky scoring a goal will give a fillip to his goalscoring appetite.
Arsenal should retain its midfield superiority with Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, and Alexander Song. On the defensive end, Squillaci had quite an impressive outing against a physical but inert Stoke attack. Birmingham mirrors Stoke in their reliance on set pieces but their lack of speed and midfield creativity have resulted in the fewest goals (25) scored in the Premiership. Still they've managed to battle quite a few top drawer teams to a stalemate.
With Fabregas, RVP, and Laurent Koscielny healthy Arsenal can press their advantage of an extra goal against Barca missing their starting center back pair of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol through suspension and injury. The presence of a healthy Fabregas and Robin Van Persie could seriously test a re-jiggered defensive line. The Dutchman in particular should be given every chance to recover given his record of fragility.
Koscielny was magnificent teaming up with Johan Djourou to neutralize the dangerous speed merchants at the Emirates. His return will be crucial if Arsenal are to withstand what will be a overwhelming show of force at Camp Nou.