Although a morning test on Cesc Fabregas’ injured hamstring proved reassuring, manager Arsene Wenger reported that the midfield captain will still sit out the second leg of the Champions League playoff with Celtic on Wednesday.
Substituted at halftime of Saturday’s 4-1 win over Portsmouth, Fabregas has been the sole new injury concern for an Arsenal side looking ahead to the huge Premiership encounter at Manchester United on the 29th.
“His scan was quite reassuring as he has no muscular strain, but it will take a few days to settle down,” said Wenger in Tuesday’s press conference. “There’s a chance he’ll be fit for Old Trafford.”
Despite the injury to the influential Spaniard, Wenger believes his talented squad can cover for Fabregas and still retain the effective new formation put in place for this season.
Without planning to reshuffle the 4-3-3 setup that has produced 12 goals in three games, the manager hinted that Aaron Ramsey — who replaced Fabregas for the second half of the Portsmouth match — may be in line for a start in midfield against Celtic.
“I still have the personnel who can come in,” Wenger told arsenal.com’s Declan Taylor. “It is another chance for Ramsey. It’s a big season for him but don’t forget he is only 18.”
Taylor reports that despite the upcoming clash with defending league champions United and a 2-0 advantage over Celtic, the manager is not thinking about rotation for the Champions League playoff as qualification is of utmost importance for Arsenal.
“My target is to win tomorrow’s game, it’s a massive game for us and after that we will see what we do for the weekend,” said Wenger. “I will not rotate as a result of the Man United game.”
“It’s not job done (yet), it’s job to do. That’s how I approach it,” continued the manager. “We have done a big part of it but the most important (thing) is to get over the line and that’s what we want to achieve tomorrow.”
In other team news this Tuesday, Arsenal’s Reserves opened their season with a 3-0 win over Fulham at Underhill on Monday evening, with Gilles Sunu, Francis Coquelin and Roarie Deacon bagging the goals.
Coquelin looked particularly impressive in midfield for the Gunners, who started a bit slow but were able to assume command of the match after the half hour. Sunu opened the scoring in the 39th minute, holding off his defender on a run down the left side before blasting past the keeper.
A Sunu corner was headed in by Coquelin two minutes later (above photo, taken from the arsenal.com site), providing Arsenal with a 2-0 lead at the break. Arsenal’s dominance in possession and attack continued throughout the second half, as Jay Simpson and Nacer Barazite each had a number of chances on goal, only to be denied by keeper Neil Etheridge.
But it was the substitute Deacon who netted the third and final goal of the night. Scoring for Steve Bould’s Academy side on the weekend in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, the young English winger finished off a nifty one-two with fellow substitute Rhys Murphy with a left-footed strike from just outside the box.
The Arsenal Reserves’ next match comes away to Birmingham on September 1st.