Cobras can make hisssssstory in final today
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.
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.
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
EXEMPLARY Coach Paul Adams