At last, a bit earlier than expected (at last estimate) but months
later than expected (at first estimate), William Gallas is back
and in the Arsenal squad to face Blackburn Rovers in tomorrow
lunchtime's FA Cup 5th round tie (live on BBC1 at 12.30).|
Gallas hurt his thigh in training on November 20th and at first it
was said to be a minor injury that'd not keep him out
Wenger said in his press conference today,
"I was worried for a while because his injury took much longer to
recover than we expected." Too bloody right. It's good to see that
they've revised the estimate of Robin van Persie's return in
line with the actual likelihood.
According to the the official
injury news page (today), Robin "travelled to Holland on February 26 to have surgery on his right foot."
Good trick! He'll back in no time if he keeps jumping through time
The return of Gallas leaves us with just one major injury
apart from Robin - Emmanuel Eboue whose ankle problem still hasn't
cleared up and for whom we don't have an estimated return date.
Matthieu Flamini has a minor ankle thingy which kept him out
on Wednesday but we don't know if he'll be back. Johan Djourou is
out with a minor knee injury
picked up in the amazing replay
win at Bolton on Wednesday.
Alexander Hleb has a bit of cold and gets a bit of a rest, following
his storming comeback at the Reebok. It looked like he was feeling it
a bit towards the end of his 77 minutes and Arsene Wenger said at
the time that he'd played Hleb for longer than planned, so chances are
he'd have been rested anyway. I guess Freddie Ljungberg played longer
than planned too, having been brought on for 13 minutes which turned in
43 or more. He'll surely be in the squad but may again not be used for
the full 90 minutes.
That's because Le Boss says he'll
shuffle the pack a bit tomorrow, what with a Champs League tie
coming up in Eindhoven on Tuesday. In that game there's a good
chance we'll play 4-5-1, so the availability of midfielders like
Hleb and Freddie could be crucial. I wouldn't be surprised to
see Theo Walcott back on the right wing tomorrow, and maybe
Jeremie Aliadiere or Denilson used on the left to give
Tomas Rosicky a break.
Up front Emmanuel Adebayor is due for a rest too but perhaps
a 4-5-1 on Tuesday would see him starting on the bench then anyway,
so maybe he'll start. Thierry Henry will probably be back, not
rested 2 games in a row, surely? Wenger has confirmed that he's in the
squad. Perhaps Julio Baptista or Aliadiere
will start with him. It's anyone's guess, but the way
Wenger bigged up Aliadiere today makes me think maybe it'll be
Wenger also confirms that Cesc Fabregas is in the squad, but
maybe it's time for Gilberto to sit one out leaving room for
In defence Gallas is expected to start, most likely with Kolo Toure but
perhaps with Philippe Senderos. This is the hardest line-up to call
for ages but I'll stick my neck out with this:
Hoyte Gallas Toure Traore
Walcott Cesc Gilberto Denilson
Rovers also had a gruelling time on Wednesday, with a 3-2 loss in the
UEFA Cup away to Bayer Leverkusen.
They already had Andre Ooijer (broken leg), Robbie Savage (broken leg) and Steven Reid out
long-term, and this is added to by David Dunn (dead leg on
Wednesday) Morten Gamsy Pedersen (hamstring) and striker Benni McCarthy
who has an achilles problem. But Matt Derbyshire returns from a thigh
problem and both Christopher Samba and Bruno Berner are available
again having been ineligible for european duty. Mark Hughes has said that Tugay will be rested. Without
him and Savage, Rovers may have less bite than usual. Former Gunner David Bentley will be up for it, no doubt. He scored a cracker against Leverkusen.