A variety of player-related updates highlight the pre-match fodder for the weekend, with updates on injuries, sickness and even disciplinary action making Arsenal news this Friday.
As far as player availability for Sunday’s home league match against Chelsea, it has been confirmed that Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy will not only miss Sunday’s game but be unavailable for all three remaining league encounters. Missing on the pitch since a back injury suffered in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match with Villareal on April 7, the French international defender will not be risked further this season, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
The manager told arsenal.com’s Richard Clarke that he had hoped that Clichy’s injury “could have cleared up by the end of the season, ” but with the Gunners having gone out in the semifinal round at the hands of Manchester United, he “does not want to take any chances” with the 23-year-old defender.
“It is finished (for Gael),” said Wenger. “We would have put a little pressure on the recovery period had we gone to the Champions League Final. But now we will not take a gamble.”
And while no other Arsenal players picked up injuries in the Champions League defeat on Tuesday, it appears that Andrey Arshavin will also sit out Sunday’s match with Chelsea. The Russian has missed a couple days of training due to the flu, noted Wenger in his Friday press conference, and may not recover for the match.
“Andrey couldn’t practice and it looks like he will be short for Sunday,” stated the manager. “He has flu. We had to send him home again today.”
Well, it seems the unhealthy curse on Arsenal players has hit again, as another player in fine form will be sidelined for some reason. We all knew that Arshavin was a “sick” footballer, but the adjective had been used as a slang descriptive for his great performances on the pitch, not for any medical reasons or for turning ill due to an actual virus.
Oh well, considering how the 2008-09 Arsenal season has gone, I guess it’s only fitting that such a thing has happened to this player on this team during this season.
In other team news that may or may not also be “sickening” to some supporters, young Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner was photographed leaving a nightclub in the early hours of Wednesday morning with his jeans pulled down. It seems the 21-year-old Dane took the loss to Manchester United pretty hard and may have drowned his sorrows in a bit too much alcohol, with Bendtner now apologizing for the whole experience.
In a statement on the club’s official web site the next morning, Bendtner said: “I love this club and was so disappointed to lose against Manchester United last night. Reaching a Champions League final is one of my biggest dreams and getting knocked out was a massive blow.
“However, no matter how disappointed I was, it does not excuse my behaviour later in the evening. I may be young but my actions were a poor error of judgment and something I deeply regret. I want to apologise to the club and the fans for letting them and myself down.”
Even with the apology, Friday’s team news shows that the club has indeed fined Bendtner for his behavior, which Wenger has described as “not acceptable” during his weekly pre-match press conference.
The one point I’ll bring up relating to Bendtner is that this experience could show us his strong feelings for Arsenal and a yearning for the club’s success on the pitch. Or, maybe it his unhappiness or ill regard for not being considered first-choice striker and only be used sparingly in big matches that has him acting in such fashion?
Either way, the fact that this young striker is speaking about this event rather than the prospects of being pried away by an AC Milan in the off-season — like some other Arsenal forward is doing in the days after a disappointing loss — may be rather telling as far as loyalty to the club and who in fact, if either, will still be with the club for next season.