LONDON • Arsenal's hopes of capturing their first Premier League title in 12 years took a huge hit yesterday with news that goalkeeper Petr Cech faces up to a month out injured.
The 33-year-old suffered a muscular problem at the end of Wednesday's 1-2 loss to Swansea City. That reverse left the Gunners six points below Premier League leaders Leicester City in third place, ahead of today's trip to second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
"(He will be out for) three to four weeks," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of the veteran who had been billed as the final piece in Arsenal's title-winning puzzle when he arrived from champions Chelsea in the summer.
"It is a serious calf injury and he had a groin alert on the first goal and he could not kick the ball properly out because of his groin and maybe compensated a little too much and provoked another muscular injury."
Cech injured his calf as he raced back towards his own penalty area after coming up for a corner against Swansea.
The Czech Republic international will also miss an FA Cup replay at Hull, a Champions League tie in Barcelona, as well as league games against West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Watford.
His absence thrusts David Ospina into the spotlight, with the Colombian walking right into the most important north London derby in recent history.
Ospina has played five games for the Gunners in all competitions this season, winning just twice and keeping only one clean sheet while conceding five goals.
"It is hard to predict what will happen tomorrow," Wenger said. "It is one of the few derbies where the title is at stake."
But the Frenchman insisted that if Spurs end up winning the league, he will not feel any worse about it than if any of Arsenal's other rivals claimed the prize.
"I never understood that. You want to do well because you want to win for yourself and you want to feel that you have given absolutely everything to win," he explained.
"After that, you do not choose who else wins it. Sport is about the guys that deserve it, win it. It's not the identity that is important."