Arsenal FC beat Newcastle United FC 3-0 on Saturday to reach their fourth FA Cup semi-final in five years but an injury to Robert Pires has Arsène Wenger and France coach Roger Lemerre sweating.
Destroyer-in-chief for the Gunners was Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman scored one goal and made two more in the quarter-final replay at Highbury, setting up a clash with Middlesbrough FC and shattering Newcastle's last hope of a trophy this season.
Wenger's pride in his team's recovery from their midweek UEFA Champions League exit was tempered by the knee injury to Pires. The inspirational midfield player could be out for a month or longer, depending on the results of a scan in the next 48 hours that will also have France waiting anxiously.
Should not miss World Cup
Wenger said the medial ligament injury should not keep Pires out of the FIFA World Cup finals, which holders France open with a game against Senegal on 31 May. Yet he could miss several key league games. "The first signs are not too good. He needs a scan to see how much damage has been done," Wenger said. "He will travel to France tomorrow to see the [French team] doctors - it could be a big blow for us but I don't think it will need surgery."
Pires scored within the first minute after a sweeping move from the edge of the home side's penalty area ended with Bergkamp turning his marker and setting up the French international to curl the ball into the far corner of the net. Within ten minutes Arsenal were 2-0 up after another great move sent Pires galloping down the left to set up Bergkamp to score unmarked from close in.
Newcastle, who led the FA Premiership for several weeks before fading this month to fourth, showed fight late in the first half, but a headed goal from England centre back Sol Campbell, from a Bergkamp free-kick, early in the second period killed the game.
Arsenal's semi-final against Middlesbrough will take place on 14 April at Old Trafford.
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