By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger has injury concerns over his full backs for the FA Cup Semi-Final with Chelsea on Saturday.
The Arsenal manager is definitely without Gael Clichy (back) while Bacary Sagna is still a doubt after pulling out of the game with Villarreal on Wednesday night with a virus.
Kieran Gibbs picked a groin problem in that 3-0 victory so, with William Gallas (knee) and Johan Djourou (knee) certainly out, Wenger will have to shuffle his defence once more.
“We still have Sagna as a doubt for the weekend,” said the manager told Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon.
“And after last night we have Kieran Gibbs as doubt too. He has a little groin problem. Clichy, Almunia and Djourou are still out."
The major issue would appear to be at left back but Wenger believes he can find a solution.
‘There is the option to play Sagna in there if he has recovered," he said . "The other is to play Silvestre there and put Song at the back. There’s not many options but we’ll deal with the situation no matter what happens."
However, further forward on the pitch there was better news.
“Of course we gain Arshavin back because he can play in the FA Cup,” said Wenger. “Eduardo and Diaby are available for selection as well.
“Eduardo might be a little bit short but Diaby is completely ready.”
Given the number of big games coming up in the near future it would be no surprise if both were used as Wenger rotates his squad. But, with a little time on his side, the 59-year-old is happy to bide his time over the changes he makes.
“Frankly I don’t know about that yet,” he said. “I am happy to take 48 hours more so I can assess tomorrow’s [injury] situation. Also it means I can look back at how I rotated before and as well, how we can keep the balance right considering the opponent.
“We have to rotate a little bit because we play every three days now and only the squad can achieve what we want to achieve.”
For the record, the manager estimated that Almunia (ankle), Djourou (knee) were a fortnight away while Clichy (back) is in the middle of a two-and-a-half week period of rest. Only then will the Frenchman start his rehab in earnest.
Arsenal TV Online can see the full video interview with Wenger on Friday morning. In it he talks about:
The Villarreal victory.
- Facing Manchester United in the Champions League Semi-Final
- The Wenger v Ferguson mind games
- Whether it will be an English or European game
- Chelsea’s change under Hiddink
- The threat of Didier Drogba
- The effect of Michael Essien’s return
- A first appearance at the new Wembley
- Why the FA Cup is now not No 3 on the priority list