Arsenal heads into its first “Big Four” matchup of the season missing its captain Cesc Fabregas, who will be kept out of the match at Manchester United on Saturday.
The Spanish midfielder, who sat out the Celtic game in midweek, is still nursing a hamstring injury aggravated in last week’s win over Portsmouth. On Thursday, Arsene Wenger judged his star midfielder to be a “50-50″ chance at being included for the big Premiership clash, but then ruled Fabregas out at today’s pre-match press conference.
“Fabregas is out and his test was not conclusive this morning,” confirmed Wenger. “Therefore he will not travel. Ideally you want him to travel and to play, but he would not be 100 percent.”
Adding that everyone else who played in the European qualifier on Wednesday is OK, the manager mentioned yesterday that while Tomas Rosicky is fit for full training, he will also not be risked at Old Trafford.
Despite missing the two veterans and other first-teamers like Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou, Wenger believes his squad will travel to Manchester in a confident mood after beginning the season with four straight wins.
“We want to show that we can win the big games away from home,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to do it,” said the Frenchman. “We know we go to Old Trafford with a good belief and that is very important before a big game like that.”
While United have some injuries of their own, Wenger said his impressions prior to the match are due more to the Gunners’ ability and mindset. “(I am confident because) first of all the quality and talent of my players. Secondly the attitude, desire and togetherness of the team,” he concluded.
The Arsenal-Manchester United match was certainly the main topic of Friday’s press conference, but Wenger also addressed the fact that Gunner forward Eduardo da Silva has been charged by UEFA for “intent to cause a match official to make an incorrect decision” over the penalty incident during the CL playoff with Celtic on Wednesday night.
The manager had just learned of the disciplinary action from Europe’s governing body, and believes his player and club had been dealt with harshly.
“I find it a complete disgrace and unacceptable,” stated Wenger during the press conference (which can be viewed at http://www.arsenal.com). “We won’t accept the way we have been treated in this case for two reasons. One, I believe that you can debate whether it was a penalty or not. This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive. Two, it singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable.
He added that UEFA may have created problems for itself by bringing the action. “I’ve fought my whole life against cheating and I’ve seen some obvious cases where Uefa didn’t intervene.
“On and off the pitch, things have happened where no action was taken,” said Wenger. “This is the first time since I’ve been in football that the judgement has been made by the referee and is not accepted by the football bodies.
“Usually a situation that has been assessed and judged by the referee can’t be touched again. Now every single decision made by a referee can be challenged. So, for me, they’ve opened a very dangerous door here.”