Co­bras can make hisssssstory in fi­nal to­day

CityPress - - Sport - CHRISTO BUCH­NER sports@city­press.co.za

Arsene Wenger’s men will be bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult, but can take heart from the fact they will have two ex­tra days to pre­pare for to­day’s crunch en­counter.

In team news, United boss Louis van Gaal has re­vealed that striker An­thony Mar­tial, mid­fielder Marouane Fel­laini and goal­keeper David de Gea will, in all like­li­hood, miss to­day’s clash.

How­ever, there is a chance that Mar­tial and De Gea could re­cover in time for the match.

“I have al­ready ex­plained to you the only mus­cle in­jury we have is Marouane Fel­laini,” Van Gaal told the club’s of­fi­cial web­site. “That we know al­ready when he played so many matches in a row.

“It’s al­ways like that when you don’t have other play­ers and it’s dif­fi­cult to change or ro­tate. So the next mus­cle in­jury would be [ex­pected to be] Mar­tial but I don’t think he has a mus­cle in­jury. He is very in­tel­li­gent – he steps down when his ham­string is tight.

“You have to cope with that, it’s dif­fi­cult also for the team be­cause ... Mar­tial and De Gea have played very good sea­sons, I think, and they have to be re­placed.”

Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Jesse Lin­gard, Mat­teo Darmian, Ash­ley Young, Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger and An­to­nio Va­len­cia re­main on the treat­ment ta­ble, while Phil Jones (knock) faces a late fit­ness test.

Arse­nal, mean­while, have just a hand­ful of ab­sen­tees to con­tend with. Tomáš Rosický (thigh), Santi Ca­zorla (knee), Jack Wil­shere (calf/shin) and Alex OxladeCham­ber­lain (knee) will miss out.

Com­ment­ing on the loss of the English winger to in­jury, Wenger said: “We lost Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain and it is quite se­ri­ous. It will keep him out for a few weeks.

“Gabriel has a test. We will see about him. We still need to be cau­tious with Danny Wel­beck.”

While all eyes will be on the clash be­tween the Red Devils and the Gun­ners, the fix­ture in­volv­ing Tot­ten­ham and Swansea is likely to have a big ef­fect on how the ti­tle race shapes up.

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s men were trail­ing ta­ble-top­ping Le­ices­ter City by just two points ahead of the week­end’s round of fix­tures, and de­pend­ing on the re­sult of the Foxes’ clash with Nor­wich City, Spurs could claim top spot in the Premier League stand­ings with a vic­tory over the Swans at White Hart Lane.

TEAMtalk Me­dia

To­day’s Premier League fix­tures:

Manch­ester United vs Arse­nal (Old Traf­ford);

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur vs Swansea City (White Hart Lane) If there’s one team that knows how to tie the Lions’ tail in a knot, it’s the Cape Co­bras.

His­tory is heav­ily weighted in favour of the Co­bras in to­day’s fi­nal in the Mo­men­tum one­day se­ries against the Lions at New­lands in Cape Town.

The team from Jo­han­nes­burg has won only six of the 25 games against the Co­bras in this se­ries.

“Our good record against the Lions and the ex­cel­lent cricket we have been play­ing lately should make us the favourite,” said Co­bras coach Paul Adams.

He also feels the home ad­van­tage will be a key fac­tor.

In Dane Pater­son and Beuren Hen­dricks, the Co­bras have two of the finest young fast bowlers in the coun­try. They have also been bowl­ing bril­liantly lately and will put the Lions’ top or­der to the test with the new ball.

Add to that the left-arm pace of Wayne Par­nell and the spin of Dane Piedt, and the Co­bras have a bowl­ing at­tack that is top class. No won­der Adams did not see the need to call on Robin Peter­son and Rory Klein­veldt for this game. He did de­cide, how­ever, to bring back opener Richard Levi af­ter he played with the above­men­tioned two in the re­cent tour­na­ment in Dubai.

Ge­of­frey Toy­ana, the Lions’ coach, be­lieves that Temba Bavuma and Ed­die Leie have re­cov­ered suf­fi­ciently to be able to play to­day.

It will be a huge boost for the vis­i­tors if they can use th­ese two na­tional play­ers. “We are go­ing to Cape Town full of con­fi­dence,” Toy­ana said be­fore his team left on their flight to Cape Town.

“With bats­men like Rassie van der Dussen and Do­minic Hen­dricks, who are now also play­ing at a good level, we do not have to rely on only Stephen Cook and Alviro Petersen for our runs.

“In a fi­nal any­thing can hap­pen and I think the team that uses its chances the best will come out on top,” he said.

He also did not be­lieve that the un­cer­tainty about the bowl­ing ac­tion of his spin­ner, Aaron Phangiso, would dis­rupt the Lions.

Though he has been called for a sus­pect bowl­ing ac­tion, Toy­ana feels it is some­thing that will have to run its course with the test­ing it will be sub­ject to. Phangiso may well play to­day and it can be as­sumed that he will be thor­oughly scru­ti­nised.

PHOTO: JU­LIAN FIN­NEY / GETTY IM­AGES

COM­PET­I­TIVE An­to­nio Va­len­cia of Manch­ester United bat­tles for the ball with Alexis Sanchez of Arse­nal in a Bar­clays Premier League match at the Emi­rates Sta­dium in Oc­to­ber. The two foes meet in the re­turn match to­day at Old Traf­ford

PHOTO: GRANT PITCHER / GALLO IM­AGES

EX­EM­PLARY Coach Paul Adams

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