Wenger patches up Arsenal

Arsene Wenger issued a gloomy bulletin on the fitness of his Arsenal team yesterday and conceded that he might have to select William Gallas, Theo Walcott and Mikaël Silvestre for tomorrow's crucial Premier League match with Manchester United despite the fact that none of them will be fully fit.

Silvestre, who broke his nose against Fenerbahce on Wednesday, could well face his former club patched up after sustaining what Wenger described as an "open wound" to his face following the elbow from Semih Sentürk. The France international will be assessed today before a decision is made but it is evident that the Arsenal team which takes the field against United will be a very long way from full fitness, never mind full strength.

The injuries to Gallas and Walcott meant that both were just rated by Wenger as "50-50" to be ready to play against United. However, the Arsenal manager has very few other options. Walcott's shoulder has been sore since he landed awkwardly after Rory Delap's controversial challenge during the Stoke game on Saturday. It is understood that his problem is not as severe as last year when he required surgery on his shoulder.

Gallas's hamstring injury makes him a doubt but Bacary Sagna could come back into the team at right-back – he is only a "slight concern" according to Wenger – allowing Kolo Touré to move back into the centre of defence. Silvestre's inclusion would be "a gamble", Wenger said, and the Arsenal manager is famously reluctant to pick his players when he believes they are not completely fit.

Manuel Almunia has recovered from his stomach complaint but Wenger confirmed that Emmanuel Adebayor, also injured in the Stoke game, and Emmanuel Eboué would not be fit for tomorrow. In Adebayor's absence, and with Robin van Persie suspended, it will fall upon Nicklas Bendtner to lead the line against the champions, a fairly daunting task for a 20-year-old with only 11 Premier League starts and six league goals in his entire Arsenal career.

The question of who plays alongside Bendtner tomorrow is a tricky one with possibly Walcott, if fit, or even the 19-year-old Carlos Vela who came on for the Dane during the game against Fenerbahce, being used. Even so it is extraordinary that Vela is even being considered given that he has never even started a Premier League game for Arsenal.

Bendtner conceded on Wednesday night that tomorrow's match could prove his most important yet as an Arsenal player. "Maybe I don't focus on the players who are out, I focus on myself," he said. "If they are available it's good for us. I still try to do the best I can to play. If I play [against United], obviously I would like to score, so let's hope it goes that way."

The dispute between Wenger and the Stoke manager Tony Pulis over Saturday's game continued yesterday when Pulis said that he would be speaking to the head of referees Keith Hackett to ensure that his team were not "perceived" as a dirty side. "I want to speak to him about Arsene's comments and the possible implications," Pulis said. "Perception is a massive thing in football and I don't want referees to take any notice of what Arsène has said. What he has come out with is way off the mark."

The Hull City manager, Phil Brown, has also waded into the debate. He said: "If you stamp that [physical side] out of the game then the game's finished, we might as well all just enjoy tippy-tappy five-a-side. I saw a typical Stoke performance, and a typical Arsenal performance. There was nothing wrong with it at all."

Group G

Results: Dynamo Kiev 1 Arsenal 1; Porto 3 Fenerbahce 1; Arsenal 4 Porto 0; Fenerbahce 0 Dynamo Kiev 0; Fenerbahce 2 Arsenal 5; Porto 0 Dynamo Kiev 1; Arsenal 0 Fenerbahce 0; Dynamo Kiev 1 Porto 2.

Arsenal's remaining group fixtures: 25 Nov: Dynamo Kiev (h); 10 Dec: Porto (a).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...