Henry only has '10-15%' chance of facing Utd - Wenger

September 15, 2006

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has played down Thierry Henry's chances of returning against Manchester United on Sunday, rating his influential striker as only having a '10-15%' chance.

The Gunners' skipper suffered a foot injury while on during international duty with France last week and missed Wednesday night's Champions League trip to Hamburg, but had been hoping to make his return at Old Trafford.

Wenger has moved to quell speculation regarding his return, arguing that he will not play at all unless he is satisfied he can start.

'On Sunday, there is just a little chance he will play - 10 or 15%. I will not put him on the bench,' said Wenger. Arsenal are facing an injury crisis up-front, with Robin van Persie also doubtful for Sunday's vital match against their fierce rivals.

The Dutch striker is struggling to be fit after picking up a hip problem during Wednesday night's 2-1 victory over Hamburg in Germany.

With Henry missing because of his injury, Van Persie took on most of the attacking duties on Wednesday, but Arsenal now face the stern test of Manchester United with both of their first choice attacking options doubtful.

Arsene Wenger revealed: 'Robin's [foot] got stuck in the pitch when he wanted to keep the ball in. We have to wait a little bit, but there is a doubt about both him and Thierry.'

However defender Kolo Toure is expected to start Sunday's match despite hobbling off inside 30 minutes on Wednesday with his own hip injury.

Despite such injury worries Van Persie has every faith the Arsenal team can put in a performance at Old Trafford.

He said: 'It will be a big game against Manchester United. I am very confident we will get a result because I trust our players.

'This is a good team with good players and they can cope with any situation. If it is Old Trafford, then fine; if it is Croatia, then fine. We just play football. That is why I have great belief for Sunday.'

Wenger is unlikely to hand Theo Walcott his first start, despite impressing as a substitute so far this season, perhaps reflecting his desire to protect his young star in what is has traditionally been an explosive fixture.

Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor and summer signing from Real Madrid Julio Baptista may provide Arsenal's an attacking options.

Arsenal head to Old Trafford off the back of a poor start to their season, having failed to win in three outings.

The Gunners are languishing in unfamiliar territory near the foot of the table. A loss on Sunday would make this Arsenal's worst start to the season since the Premiership began.

Manchester United are currently top having won their opening four games, conceding only one goal in the process; they have not won their first five league games since 1985, when they went on a 10-game winning run.