Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry trained this morning and is available to
play, having missed the last 3 games with a foot problem. Arsene Wenger
said in his pre-match press conference that "he can start if I decide to
start him. There is no risk for his health or medical problems. Just a risk
that it gets a bit worse after the game and you have to start from scratch again."
Seems likely that the risk will be taken. Following the loss to Blackburn Rovers
in the FA Cup (late report to come - sorry, I've been away for a week) the
Champs League is our one chance for glory this year. And we need to score
at least 2 goals tonight thanks to the abject loss
in Holland 2 weeks ago. Some say
we need 3 which seems a bit pessimistic to me - PSV did little in the first match
to suggest a goal from them in this one is a certainty.
If he's not quite fit then playing Henry could make us easier to play against, and could put Wenger into the difficult position of deciding when to give up on him.
Henry may be needed, because right now it's not clear where else the goals are going
to come from, although at least Theo Walcott is off the mark with an
excellent goal in the league cup final
and Julio Baptista scored his first league goal against Reading on Saturday.
Gilberto scored a penalty too which is nice.
But Alexander Hleb and Freddie Ljungberg haven't been quite firing on all
cylinders since their return from injury, and we are missing Tomas Rosicky (groin)
and of course Robin van Persie. We expect Thierry to start up front with
Emmanuel Adebayor, with the Beast and at least one of Theo and Jeremie Aliadiere on
the bench. But Wenger stopped short of actually saying Thierry would start which
says to me there's a chance he won't. Le Boss isn't normally coy about his captain.
In defence Emmanuel Eboue has an ankle problem picked up in the loss at Ewood Park,
which is a big loss because he's forced to miss the next 3 domestic games through
suspension following the non-brawl at the end of the league cup final. Justin Hoyte
still has his hamstring strain from that game but Johan Djourou is back in
the squad and likely to play at right back. Anyone but Philippe Senderos please.
I don't think he's playing quite as badly as some are saying, but he's certainly no right back
as Benni McCarthy helped prove.
Another option as cover at fullback, Matthieu Flamini is also out injured with a
foot problem. But at least Gael Clichy is ok for the left and Kolo Toure and
William Gallas available in the middle of defence. I've read suggestions that
Senderos is unfit but there's nothign to that effect on the official injury news
page. Perhaps the reference is to his form rather than lack of injury.
In midfield we've got Gilberto and Cesc Fabregas, and probably Hleb and Freddie.
You never know though, a youngster like Theo, Denilson, Abou Diaby (back from
injury) or Alialiadiere might
get a start.
PSV will presumably come and defend to some extent, but we saw
last time out that they've
got threat on the break. They've got top scorer Farfan back now, to partner Kone up front,
which could help them
be a bit more adventurous. The rewards of an early goal are massive of course, since
we'd have to score 3.
If they have problems this time, it's in defence where both
Manuel Da Costa and Jan Kromkamp are out, and Ibrahim Afellay faces a late fitness test.
But regardless of the defenders, we'll still have to get past PSV's massive Brazilian keeper
Gomes. Check out this profile from
a worryingly pessimistic sounding Amy Lawrence in the Observer. At least she seems to think we're in with
a shout of signing him.
| in this topic...
||Most recent story...|
||FAQ for related info & links...