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Football: Gunners gaffer is in a Vieira bad spot; Arsenal v Man Utd.

Byline: By Carl Askew

ARSENE WENGER reckons he has a job on his hand to get Arsenal off to a flyer this season.

The Gunners boss goes into tomorrow's Community Shield against Manchester United with Sol Campbell and Patrick Vieira ruled out through injury, with Vieira's very future at the club still very much in doubt.

Thierry Henry could make a surprise appearance in Cardiff as a substitute after recovering more quickly than expected from an Achilles problem.

However, with Ray Parlour, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord all having left the club, Wenger admits experience is thin on the ground.

Hehas to look to his younger players, such as Ashley Cole, Jose Reyes, Robin van Persie, Francesc Fabregas and Kolo Toure, to step into the breach.

And he has been further frustrated by a shock decision by Brazil to call up Edu to play Haiti later this month in a friendly - the same day he returns from holiday.

Wenger said: 'I have a job to do before the championship starts as the team haven't been together enough to prepare.

'We haven't had Sol, Patrick or Thierry in training. If you have those three players out of the squad,plus Parlour,Wiltord and Kanu, you suddenly look a bit light on experience.

'It's time for us to get back together and face the immense challenge of retaining the title, which I would love to do for the first time. It will be difficult, though.

'We have lost experienced players through injury and players being sold. We cannot afford to lose much more .

'But at some stage, we have to give a chance to the younger players. We worked hard to get good young players.'

Wenger's midfield resources are being stretched, especially with new signing Mathieu Flamini still not having had international clearance.

Edu, meanwhile, is still recovering from playing for Brazil in the Copa America.

Wenger said: 'Edu is not ready to play as I have given him a three-week holiday until August 17. But then Brazil have called him up to play Haiti away on August 17. That is unbelievable.

'I don't expect him to go. It's complete nonsense.'

United boss Alex Ferguson, minus star striker Ruud van Nistelrooy who needs a hernia operation, said:'The game will be competitive.Prestige comes into it, pride comes into it, so it is always competitive when we play Arsenal.'


SIDELINED: Patrick Vieira
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 7, 2004
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