Arsene Wenger admitted he faced his most difficult start to a season in terms of injuries as he prepared for the first leg of the final Champions League qualifying round against FC Twente tonight.
Wenger has confirmed that Cesc Fabregas will miss tonight’s game after suffering a hamstring injury in training on Monday and would be ruled out for two weeks. Also missing from the trip to Holland are Philippe Senderos, Kolo Touré and Samir Nasri.
Wenger is without a total of nine members of his first-team squad. Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo da Silva, Abou Diaby and the new signing Amaury Bischoff are long-term casualties and Alex Song is at the Olympic Games with Cameroon.
“Ideally, we would have loved Fábregas to play,” said Wenger, who admitted he had pushed the Spaniard too hard following his late return to pre-season training after Euro 2008. “It’s a lot of responsibility [on Aaron Ramsey] because money is an issue. But it’s not just money, it’s our sporting target as well. We want to be in the Champions League. It’s a big game for us.”
Wenger has little option but to start Ramsey, his 17-year-old summer signing from Cardiff City, alongside Denilson, 20, in central midfield. In the absence of Rosicky and Nasri, Emmanuel Eboué will start on the right of midfield, with Theo Walcott on the left.
Asked whether his likely starting XI reflected his faith in the youth at the club, Wenger said: “I don’t have much choice. It’s a young one or a younger one. It is always a bit tricky when you have players come back [for pre-season] so late.
“You try to rush the fitness when you have Champions League qualifiers and some of them get injuries. That’s what has happened with Cesc [who only returned on July 29 from the European Championship]. It’s the most problematic start [to a season] numbers-wise. We are short of one player and I hope to do something this week or before the transfer deadline.”