David Beckham will miss the Manchester derby at Maine Road on 9 November through suspension. The England captain picked up his fifth booking of the season against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday and must now serve an automatic one-match ban.
His absence increases the selection problems for manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who is already without Roy Keane and has confirmed Nicky Butt would miss the next five weeks after an ankle operation he is due to undergo tomorrow.
One of United's most inexperienced squads flew to Cyprus yesterday for tomorrow's Champions' League game against Maccabi Haifa. Among the absentees from the squad who flew back out to south-eastern Europe three days after an early-morning return from Greece were Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Fabien Barthez and Laurent Blanc.
Throw in long-term injury victims Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wes Brown, Keane and Butt, and the Old Trafford outfit had a stronger squad left in Manchester. The travelling party included a 16-year-old Dane, Mads Timm, the 17-year-old Kieran Richardson and several other reserve team players.
The Borussia Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer has called Arsenal's players arrogant and accused them of diving.
Arsenal defeated Dortmund 2-0 in the Champions' League at Highbury last month and Sammer wants revenge in the return match on Wednesday. He said: "A lot of my players came away from Arsenal wanting to knock the arrogance off the faces of some of the Arsenal players. It would be justice if we win because we felt certain people were guilty of diving – not only to gain free-kicks but also to get my players in trouble. The referee seemed convinced by their acting.
"There were some unsavoury challenges which went unpunished. These things remain firmly in your mind and that's why we are out for revenge.
"One individual has been talked about, both in the Premiership and Europe, for two seasons now. He goes down like he's been shot, only to get up moments later. This causes great anger."
Uefa, Europe's governing body, will consider incidents of crowd trouble and racist abuse at the recent Euro 2004 qualifier between Slovakia and England at a disciplinary committee meeting on 21 November. The Football Association has complained to Uefa about the racist chants aimed at Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole, which were mentioned in the Italian referee Domenico Messina's match report. The FA was also unhappy about the treatment of England fans by the Slovakian authorities, but the FA could be also fined for misbehaviour by England supporters.
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