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Mid-Day Ticker: Van Persie to face Barca, Villa’s Bannan loaned to Leeds and more

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By JOHN BOSCHINI

Arsenal's hopes of advancement in the Champions League got a major boost with the news that Robin van Persie will travel to face Barcelona in the return leg of the two teams' round of 16 matchup.

The Dutch striker was expected to miss Tuesday's match with a knee injury sustained in the Carling Cup final on Feb. 27 but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed van Persie was named to the 19-man roster. Original estimates had a recovery timetable of about a month. Van Persie will join fellow teammates Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere, who will play despite injury concerns.

Barcelona also confirmed that it will be without captain Carles Puyol after the defender aggravated a knee injury in training.

Here are some more stories to keep your day going.

LEEDS SIGN BANNAN ON LOAN FROM ASTON VILLA

Leeds United has confirmed the signing of Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan on a loan until the end of the season. The 21-year-old Scot has made 19 appearances for Villa this season and will play in Leeds' clash with Preston on Tuesday. The move should free up space for United States' midfielder Michael Bradley who has struggled to find consistent playing time since joining Aston Villa in January.

VAN GAAL TO LEAVE BAYERN MUNICH IN SUMMER

Merely a year after leading Bayern Munich to a Champions League final and a League and Cup double, Louis van Gaal will resign as manager at the end of the season, the club confirmed today.

Van Gaal, 59, still has a year left on his contract but the move comes in a season in which Bayern sit fifth in the Bundesliga table and faces a difficult battle to qualify for next year's Champions League. Its title hopes are also over with leader Borussia Dortmund holding a 19-point lead with nine games to play. Bayern Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said that the decision was made mutually between manager and club.

"We were both of the opinion it was better to part company," Rummenigge said.

ITALY SCHEDULES MARCH FRIENDLY VERSUS UKRAINE

Italy will face Ukraine on March 29 in a friendly to be played in Kiev as Italy has a break from Euro 2012 qualifying. The friendly will give Italy, who currently leads its qualifying group, an opportunity to visit one of the hosts of the tournament. As hosts, Ukraine do not participate in qualifying and receive an automatic bid. This will also be a rematch of the two teams' second-round matchup in the 2006 World Cup.

FABIANO OUT SIX WEEKS WITH INJURY

Sevilla will be without striker Luis Fabiano for at least six weeks with a torn leg muscle, the club confirmed today. The Brazilian striker was taken off late in Sevilla's  2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao over the weekend but scans confirmed the injury was not as serious as previously thought. Sevilla, who currently sit a lowly seventh in the La Liga table, will sorely miss its star striker when it faces Barcelona this weekend.

TUNISIAN LEAGUE TO RESUME PLAY FOLLOWING UNREST

In a sign of stability after months of turmoil, the domestic Tunisian soccer league will resume play this weekend. Play has been suspended since protests against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali erupted in mid-January. The Tunisian sports ministry said all the matches would observe a moment of silence for the protesters killed during the revolution.

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What do you think about today's stories? Looking forward to Arsenal vs. Barcelona? Will Banna's loan free up space for Michael Bradley? Is Bayern better off without van Gaal?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Doesn’t have it in him…. He has earned a starters role at every club he has been at. He did that while he is still below the age of 25.

    Reply
  2. Either way, something is coming out of a particular orifice of a horse and getting smeared all over RvP’s leg. That ish will be like brand new.

    … only for it to fall apart 3 weeks from now.

    Reply
  3. If Bradley’s good enough he’ll start. I’d rather have him earn his spot on the bench instead of getting it because others have left. He’s a solid player but he’s going to need to dig deep to become a starter.

    I don’t think he has it in him, but I’d love to be proven wrong…

    Reply
  4. RVP is the difference maker. It’s a shame he can never stay healthy because he is one of the best strikers in the world when fully fit.

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  5. I’d rather they loaned Bradley to Leeds so that he could play and they could be promoted. Guess you cant loan “a loan” though.

    Reply
  6. Van Persie the goal scoring machine! With Cesc and RvP back in the squad, and a healthy Nasri I think Arsenal may have a chance tomorrow.

    Reply
  7. Bannan saw as little action as Bradley so I don’t necessarily see how that is going to “free up space for United States’ midfielder Michael Bradley.” If anything, he is still in the same position on the depth chart, but now with a little less competition.

    Reply

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