Thierry Henry faces fitness test ahead of United clash

Updated: 21 January 2012 12:44 IST

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry faces a late fitness test ahead of Sunday's clash against Manchester United as the French star struggles with a calf injury.

London:

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry faces a late fitness test ahead of Sunday's clash against Manchester United as the French star struggles with a calf injury.

Henry has made two substitute appearances for Arsenal, including a match-winning performance against Leeds United on his debut, since rejoining the club on loan from New York Red Bulls earlier this month.

But Gunners coach Arsene Wenger is uncertain if the 34-year-old will recover from injury in time to feature against the Premier League champions at the Emirates Stadium.

"He will have a test on Saturday. He has a calf problem," Wenger said on Friday.

Henry's fitness is crucial for Wenger, who is already without Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, Andre Santos and Kieran Gibbs for the United game.

To make matters worse, Wenger is likely to be without Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen, who also has a calf problem.

"At the moment I don't think he (Vermaelen) will make it for Sunday," Wenger said.

"Let's hope we have a good surprise. Let's see how he develops. There may be a test. At the moment we just go day by day, but he looks short."

Although Wenger could be forced to send out a patched-up team on Sunday, he still believes the game represents a golden opportunity to prove his squad are top-four material.

The fifth-placed Gunners have slumped to successive defeats at Fulham and Swansea City, leaving them four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

But Wenger feels a confident display against United, who thrashed Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford earlier this season, would be the perfect response.

"You want to play big games, and this is a big game that comes at a moment when we want to convince people that we are capable of coming back into the top four. There is no better opportunity than Man United to show that," he said.

"We are really frustrated because we made the minimum of our last two games, we were twice leading and in the end we lost them both.

"We play a big game, yes, but another thing that is important is to come back to winning habits.

"We were on a very strong run before that, and we lost that run in a way that is difficult to accept because everything went against us in the two games - but we have to accept that and win our game on Sunday."

Wenger admits the defeat at United - the heaviest of his Arsenal reign - was one of the more painful experiences of his illustrious career, but he refuses to dwell on the scoreline any longer.

"It took me 24 hours or not even that to watch the game again because it's part of my job. The next morning I always re-watch the game we played the day before," he said.

"Some are more painful, some are more enjoyable. This one was a very painful one but you have to face reality.

"When you have young managers and they ask, 'What kind of advice would you give me?' It is always to survive big disappointments, because that is part of the job.

"Every game is a new life - you can do well, you can do bad. We just want to take this opportunity to do well.

"The result in August has nothing to do with that, we cannot wipe it out. That will not be an excuse not to beat them. It is over.

"You focus on what is in front of you and you try to do as well as you can."

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