Early teams news ahead of Sunday's League Cup
final against Chelsea is that both sides will definitely be missing their
The fact that Thierry Henry won't be playing comes as no surprise. As he himself
points out, in a robust rebuttal of the idea some have been putting about that he
feels 'snubbed' by Arsene Wenger's not playing him in the competition,
he's only played in the League Cup a couple of times, the last of these being
the second leg of the semi against
Wigan Athletic last season (which we won 2-1, going out on away goals). He only played in
that one because of absences, and
it was his first League Cup game for 6 years.
But it's not just that he expects to be left out, he understands and approves too...
"It would have been hard if the team was not playing well but when you win
at Everton and Liverpool
and knock out Tottenham in the
semi-final then whoever played there should play."
But apparently he's been carrying an injury anyway. After Tuesday's
loss to PSV he said,
"I've been playing with a bad foot for two weeks now," (since the draw
at Middlesbrough, to be precise,
"But I like to go out there even if I'm not 100% fit. It is affecting
me but I want to help the team."
Henry's foot has apparently been inflamed
after our last 3 games, which probably explains
his loss of form (although I tought he had a decent game in Holland on Tuesday).
Chelsea's captain John Terry would, however, have played. He's only recently
returned from a spell on the sidelines, but was
off in last night's 1-1 draw with Porto (just chasing the ball), with what looks like
ankle ligament damage. He'll be having scans in the hope that it won't keep him
out longer than a few weeks but he's thought to be a major doubt for
the England games against Israel and Andorra at the end of next month. Chelsea
ill afford to be without him.
It leaves them with just one recognised centre-half for the final on Sunday, Ricardo Carvalho,
who'll presumably be partnered by Michael Essien (hopefully it'll help stop the
latter from scoring any freak wonder-goals).
It's not impossible that they'll be joined in defence by Ashley Cole.
He's been out since straining a posterior cruciate ligament against Blackburn at the end
of last month, when he stepped on the ball. Ash wasn't expected back for a while yet
but could be about to make an amazing recovery. Arsenal's experience is that bringing him
back early from injury isn't such a good idea, so we've mixed feelings about the
possibility. It's unlikely to happen anyway, but wouldn't it be particularly sweet to
beat them with him in the side?
Arsenal have doubts
over the fitness of Gael Clichy (foot) and Justin Hoyte (hamstring), both of whom
face fitness tests on Friday (and perhaps subsequent tests too). Clichy may not have
played anyway, since Armand Traore has been preferred as a starter in previous
rounds. But Clichy has come off the bench a few times and made a real difference
when he has done so, so it'd be a big loss.
Clichy himself has backed Traore, echoing Henry's sentiments.
"Yes he had done well when he has come in, and I think he deserves to play against Chelsea.
But if the boss wants me to play I will be more than happy. The Carling Cup Final is the
Carling Cup Final and, when you are at Arsenal, you want to play every game.
Perhaps it means more to me than others because I was away [injured] for a year. It would be
amazing for me and if I have to play one more game this week then I will do my best."
Traore is thought to have been in the reserve squad due to play Portsmouth last night,
which may have reduced his own chances of playing again on Sunday. But that game was
at late notice due to a waterlogged pitch, so Traore should be fine if needed. But
while in some senses he's a Clichy clone (both having been nicked from south-coast French
sides at a young age) he's far from being at the same level yet.
Arsene Wenger has said that he will "adjust to the difficulty of the team we are playing",
which suggests that perhaps he'd think of playing a stronger side in this match.
But as well as Henry, he's said that Freddie Ljungberg and William Gallas won't play.
The absence of Gallas suggests that Johan Djourou is set to fill in at right-back if
Hoyte doesn't make it.