Arsenal should be almost back to full strength at the front for the visit
of Sheffield United tomorrow. Arsene Wenger said in an interview
on Thursday that Thierry Henry had recovered from his foot problem and
that Robin van Persie was likely to follow suit. And Robin has indeed
been included in the squad following a successful return to training
Theo Walcott is a doubt with a minor shoulder injury picked up playing
for the reserves on Wednesday, but chances are he wouldn't have been used
except on the bench, anyway. Wenger says he's expecting to return to
4-4-2, so it'll probably be Thierry alongside Emmanuel Adebayor, with
van Persie on the bench and Walcott given a bit more time.
A four man midfield means a couple of players missing out. Favourites
at the moment to play on the wings outside the central axis of Gilberto
and Fabregas seem to be Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb, but
clearly, with everyone fit, we've an embarssment of riches in midfield.
Freddie Ljungberg and Baptista on the bench, along with van Persie
or Adebayor, would leave only one defensive sub. But the versatility of
William Gallas and Justin Hoyte (not to mention Kolo Toure and
Johan Djourou) should mean that's not too much of a problem.
The long-term injured players Phillipe_Senderos, Lauren,
Gael Clichy, and Abou Diaby are all still out (see
official injury news)
but Senderos for one is quoted this week as saying he's hoping to be
back in training next week. Once they're back we'll have an embarassment
of riches in all positions except Jens Lehmann's.
United's Phil Jagielka says he's happy to
be an underdog tomorrow. Just as well. Buoyed by last week's
win at Old Trafford, this must surely be the game to get our first
win at our new home.
Jagielka, who's always impressed me, has been struggling this season
from having to play in various positions. That's because the Blades have
injury problems all over the pitch, being without
defenders Craig Short, Alan Wright and Derek Geary,
strikers Danny Webber, Steve Kabba and Neil Shipperley,
and midfielders Nick Montgomery and Michael Tonge.
Then there's keeper Paddy Kenny for whom Ian Bennett continues to
deputise. Probably only 4 of these (Kenny, Tonge, Webber, Short) would be in Neil Warnock's first 11.
but as we learnt to our cost last season, losing your second (third, fourth, etc) choice
players becomes a big problem when the first choice is out.
Along with Watford, United are yet to win a game in 5 Premiership
outings. But we shouldn't get too cocky just yet, we were in
the same boat until last Sunday.