With Arsenal now fully underway with pre-season training and the first pre-season game against Lens being less than a week away, Gooners are excited to see the players back in action. There will be a whole host of first team players missing from the pre-season squads, due to extended holidays, but there should still be a fair few famous faces ready to grace the pitch.
Some first team players however will not be returning until the very end of pre-season training, whilst the likes of Giroud, Ramsey, Ozil and Koscielny are not expected to join up with the squad until little less than a week before our Premier League campaign kicks off. It’s a concern for many fans, as we already start to think about who will be featuring for Arsenal in the first game of the season. With so many first team players unlikely to be fully fit, it means that squad players will be drafted into the team against what will be a competitive Liverpool side.
Wenger has spoken to the media about his concerns with Arsenal’s tough start to the season and he seems to suggest that Arsenal have been given a difficult start to the campaign. Arsenal face Liverpool at home on the opening day and then travel to Leicester a week later, meaning the Gunners face two strong opponents in the first two games.
Wenger said: ‘[We want the players] to be as sharp as possible. Look at the schedule we have, it is a very difficult schedule and [we must] focus on the players who are here because they are certainly the players who will start the season. Let’s not forget that we play Liverpool and Leicester in the first two games so we have to be ready physically and fitness-wise.’
In my opinion the first two games will be very tough for Arsenal. However there’s no excuses for Wenger. Yes it’s unfortunate that we have a tough start when players will not be at full fitness, but these things happen and I don’t think Wenger seems to be looking at what he can do to rectify the situation. One of the key reasons for why there is concern surrounding the missing first team players, is because after the starting eleven, there is a severe lack in quality to replace them. After Giroud, with Welbeck out, our next natural centre forward is Akpom or Sanogo, this can be solved by buying into the market. In defence, it’s likely going to be a partnership between Mertesacker and Gabriel, this could also be solved by investing in the market. It seems clear to the fans and the media, but why are Arsenal struggling so much in the transfer window?
The players who will be present for pre-season do need to be as fit as they can be for this tough challenge, especially since Liverpool and Leicester will have the majority of their players back. However I’m not going to sympathise with Wenger suggesting that it’s a tough start, when we can all see that our squad needs new additions in order to boost the quality we have available to us, when our first team stars cannot be picked.