Arsene Wenger has confirmed the late returning trio of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny will not be fit to face Liverpool next weekend, leaving the Gunners vulnerable in a number of positions.
Wenger’s men may have seen off Viking FK 8-0 in Friday nights thriller in Stavanger, Norway but Liverpool represent an astronomically harder test and they go into that tie without their first choice striker, No.10 and centre back.
Arsenal have been attempting to bring in a striker all summer, but have so far failed. Meaning this weekend they face the likelihood of lining up with Theo Walcott leading the line. The Gunners also have just Gabriel as the lone senior recognised centre back option, with a number of youngsters tested on tour.
The Gunners boss was quizzed on the fitness of Giroud, Ozil and Koscielny after the win, and revealed they will miss the season opener.
“The Liverpool game will come too early for them,” Wenger said.
Santi Cazorla captained the side and although he missed a penalty, the Spaniard made amends with a stunning strike after the break.
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“It’s his first 90 minutes in a long time,” Wenger said. “We need him back in good shape. He’s a pleasure to watch.”
Wenger also spoke about the possibility of fielding Gabriel with one of Arsenal’s young promising centre backs.
“In these kinds of games they get experience and also get used to playing the way we want to play, but they are not tested enough to really be able to say. The Premier League is a different problem for them.”
The Gunners face Manchester City in Sweden on Sunday, a fantastic test to guage where the north London side sit in their preparations.
The lack of new signings combined with the late returns of some players is certainly going to hinder the start of Arsenal’s campaign. There should be enough in the squad to at least be competitive against Liverpool, Wenger will be keen to avoid another West Ham debacle.