Falcao out again for Man Utd, but Di Maria fit for Arsenal
Colombian striker frustrated by injury setback, but criticises media over reporting of his knee
There was mixed news for Manchester United ahead of Saturday's crucial Premier League clash with Arsenal. While winger Angel di Maria and goalkeeper David de Gea were both passed fit for the trip to the Emirates, Radamel Falcao will not only be absent but he will sidelined for a further two weeks after a new injury setback.
Speculation has been increasing in recent weeks that the Colombian striker has still not fully recovered from the serious knee injury he suffered in January. Though Falcao strenuously denied the rumours earlier in the month, the fact remains that he has not featured for United since the 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on October 20. He has not managed to complete 90 minutes for United since his loan move from Monaco at the end of August.
Van Gaal was stoicism personified when he faced the press on Thursday afternoon. Asked if he was worried about the state of Falcao, he replied: "It takes time. Next week he shall train, probably with our selection and then he needs two weeks and maybe a game."
Falcao was similarly phlegmatic when he spoke to United's official website. Admitting the injury setback was "frustrating", he added: "I am getting better, I feel well and I hope to come back to the pitch soon... I have to be calm and recover because that is important to help the team when I return to the games."
Falcao also had some stern words for the media, and their negative reporting in recent weeks suggesting his injuries could be career threatening. "It is a bit frustrating," he said of the speculation. "Well, it is more than frustrating actually and it detracts from the credibility of the media that there is so much speculation and that so many falsehoods have been written about it... I think with an audience of so many millions of people, it is not right."
And Falcao isn't the only United player whose injury status is unclear. Defender Daley Blind, who injured his knee playing for Holland against Latvia at the weekend, was initially ruled out for six months by United. But Van Gaal questioned that prognosis during Thursday's press conference. "First he needs to rest for ten days, then we will have a better idea," Van Gaal told reporters. "I can't say it will be six to eight weeks. I can't even say it will be ten to 12 weeks. But it is definitely not six months."
United will be hoping that Blind's recovery goes as well as that of Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. When the Frenchman broke his foot against Everton in August, Arsenal's medical staff said he wouldn't be seen again until the new year. But speaking to reporters on Thursday, manager Arsene Wenger said that Giroud was available for selection, though he had yet to decide whether he would risk him against United.
"He is three or four weeks ahead of schedule," explained Wenger. "Originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year. So he's one month ahead."