Cesc - hamstring woes continueAs I said last night, I'm having to do this a little earlier than I would have liked today. I hoped to have the travelling squad details from the official website, but time ebbs away ever more quickly. In the absence of the full team details we do have the bones of Arsene Wenger's press conference from this morning.
It is not a surprise that Cesc Fabregas will not be going to deepest, darkest Ukraine this week. Wenger has said that he is being cautious, but that Cesc should be fit for Sunday's game at home to Newcastle. It's clear that Fabregas' hamstring problems are not healing from one lay-off to the next. I remember Ryan Giggs having a regular hamstring problem earlier in his career, and it has now come back to haunt him again. If Cesc is afflicted by something similar then we (or Barcelona) can expect him to miss games for a long time to come. The important thing for Arsenal will be to make sure Fabregas isn't involved in unnecessary matches (like the Newcastle game last week), thus limiting the chances of him doing more serious damage to his hamstring. If, by some miracle, Fabregas is still at Arsenal next season he will benefit from a Summer away from the Spain squad. I don't know if there is some random FIFA effort next Summer that Spain would be expected to attend, as World Cup winners, but if there is then Cesc should not be playing for them.
In the other early team news there are potential injury problems elsewhere in the midfield. Alex Song has a calf problem, Denilson a groin injury, and Arshavin an unspecified "little problem," according to Arsene Wenger. None of those players are definitely out of the squad yet, and will be subject to some fitness testing later. I wouldn't mind if Song was excused the long trip as he has been, and will be, involved in every game so far, apart from the one he was suspended for. If Denilson is also out we could be a little short in the defensive area of the pitch, but Jack Wilshere is back for tomorrow. There is no word on whether Diaby is available.
I won't try to predict a team for tomorrow as, without knowing who is fit/injured, there is really no point. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or two coming in to the side - Walcott, possibly Bendtner, but this may be slightly dependant on who else is available.
LATE EDIT: SAMIR NASRI IS BEING SHOWN ON SKY RIGHT NOW HAVING HIS ANKLE/CALF STRAPPED UP IN THE OPEN TRAINING SESSION. WE COULD REALLY DO WITHOUT HIM BEING INJURED.
The Reserves are in action today against Aston Villa. So far this season we've seen a pretty strong line-up in their matches, but today might be a little different. Justin Hoyte and Mark Randall both went out on loan last week, and Benik Afobe has now joined Huddersfield (according to Young Guns Blog) to get some Football League experience. Carlos Vela played in the last game for the Reserves, but he will almost certainly be on the trip to Ukraine today, and he could be joined by the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Henri Lansbury and Craig Eastmond - particularly if the midfield is robbed of the senior players. Thomas Cruise is apparently fit again and should be in the starting line-up. It looks like it could be a somewhat weakened Reserve XI then, and they will be well tested by Aston Villa. I'll look forward to seeing the highlights of the game on Arsenal TV Online tomorrow.
Tomorrow's post will be after the game against Shakhtar Donetsk, so it will be a late one.