Injury-hit Arsenal will give teenager full debut against Liverpool
Emmanuel Frimpong set for first start as Wenger battles suspensions and injuries
Arsene Wenger will send out a patched up side against Liverpool at the Emirates on Saturday as the Gunners boss deals with an early-season injury and suspension crisis.
The Gunners boss will have to field Thomas Vermaelen at left-back against Kenny Dalglish’s side, having lost both Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore to muscle injuries this week.
However Wenger is confident that Johan Djourou will recover from the slight hamstring strain that forced him off after just 12 minutes’ action against Udinese on Tuesday night, and the Swiss will partner Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
Samir Nasri is also fit and available, and Wenger suggested that the Frenchman could be involved despite the likelihood of him joining Manchester City in the next week. Japanese teenager Ryo Miyaichi is another who will be in the squad and could make his debut for the club.
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The centre of midfield is again a problem for Wenger, with Jack Wilshere’s ankle having not recovered sufficiently for him to take part, and Alex Song beginning a three-match ban for his stamp on Joey Barton.
Tomas Rosicky is also struggling with a thigh problem, meaning that Wenger will hand a full Premier League debut to Emmanuel Frimpong, who has come off the bench in both matches so far this season.
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“Gibbs has a small hamstring strain and will miss the match on Saturday. Johan Djourou a chance to be fit. He had a test which looked quite positive, so we are hopeful. Johan has a minor hamstring strain. Kieran should be out for 10-12 days,” said Wenger who was disappointed to report that Wilshere was still unable to make his first appearance of the season.
“Jack is getting better by the day. He will not be ready for Saturday, but we have had good signs with him and that is very important.
“Both Tomas [Rosicky] and Armand [Traore] are doubtful for the match on Saturday. We will make a late decision on both of them. Rosicky has a slight thigh problem and Traore has a slight groin problem.”
Gervinho also begins his three-match ban following his debut red card at Newcastle, and Wenger is also stretched in attack, where Nicklas Bendtner could come in from the cold having so far failed to find his desired transfer away from the Emirates.
Captain Robin van Persie could even drop back into the attacking trio behind the lone striker, with either Bendtner or Marouane Chamakh playing up top.
Wenger did at least have some positive news in the form and fitness of Theo Walcott, scorer of Arsenal’s only competitive goal so far this season.
“Theo has done well,” said Wenger. “We worked very hard on getting Theo fit for Tuesday’s match and I think it was the right decision to start him.
“We did not want to play Theo earlier, as he had not played in three weeks. But he had a good start and a good game on Tuesday, so we’re pleased.”
Arsenal probable starting XI v Liverpool: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arshavin, Walcott, Van Persie, Chamakh.