Team News: Arsenal
Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
José Holebas will miss the homecoming of the FA Cup finalists on Monday with the injury he picked up in the epic semi-final victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
The left-back, who was outstanding in the 3-2 extra-time win, came off after 98 minutes of the game at the home of English football with a hamstring problem and has been receiving treatment from physio Peter Webb and his team ever since. The 34-year-old will definitely miss the game with Arsenal at Vicarage Road and possibly longer.
“I’m not sure about Holebas,” said Gracia. “We need time to see how he is. He will not be ready for the next game, for sure.”
Gracia never moans about the loss of a player because he has such faith in the likely replacement.
“Masina is ready,” said Gracia. “He came on and did very well and in other games as well. I want all my players to be fit but in this case we have other players.”
Gerard Deulofeu and Kiko Femenía also came off in the extra period at Wembley, but Gracia reported that “Kiko trained all this week and Gerard as well.”
Domingos Quina was on the bench at Wembley and did get on, but he picked up an injury in training this week, meaning the vacant central midfield spot on the bench could go to Nathaniel Chalobah. Adalberto Peñaranda is training outside of the main group and undergoing some on-pitch rehab.
“Tom Cleverley is injured and Domingos Quina as well,” said Gracia. “Yesterday he had a problem in a training session with his shoulder. Some players have different pains so we will see in the next days if they are ok to play against Arsenal.”
The Head Coach is not even contemplating the FA Cup final and is going hell for leather to claim seventh spot. There will be no chance of him resting and rotating, certainly not against Arsenal. “I try to choose the best players for the next game,” he said. “I am only thinking about trying to win the next game. I don’t want to think any further. I prefer to only focus on the next game.”
Gracia gave the players three days off after the breathless win over Wolves, although Troy Deeney came in on Wednesday to do a bit extra, and the Head Coach thinks the players will be sufficiently recharged to go again against Arsenal in what should be a cracking atmosphere at Vicarage Road.
“I think we had time to recover,” said Gracia. “The players had three days off and they were ready to start preparing for the next game. We have enough time as we play on Monday. I think it’s good for us to have more time to recover and prepare for Monday. We have good professionals and with these players, it is easy as they know the next game is very important. We don’t have only one final – we have seven finals. All of them are focused on the next game.”