Following a summer of gruelling international tournaments, namely the Copa America and the European Championships, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger might well feel aggrieved by their impact on his side’s readiness for the new Premier League season.
The summer break is finally here and players involved in the international championships are only now fully free to kick off the studs and take a well earned break, a full six weeks after most domestic seasons ended.
While many of the Premier League’s top sides had players involved in Euro 2016 and the Copa America, it is Arsenal who have seen their top players most affected.
With the likes of France internationals Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny both heavily involved right up to the European Championship Final last night, both have played seven competitive games since Arsenal last lined out in the league.
Similarly, Germany’s Mesut Ozil and Wales’ Aaron Ramsey were involved up to the semi-final stage, both playing six additional games for their respective countries.
Across the Atlantic, Chile international Alexis Sanchez featured prominently in his countries title winning adventure in the Copa America. Following the tournament, Sanchez shared images of the damage he suffered to his left ankle during the summer tournament, throwing into doubt his availability and fitness for Arsenal’s early Premier League fixtures in August.
In addition, Sanchez admitted to already being tired ahead of the new season, something Arsenal fans will not want to hear given the importance of the diminutive attacking midfielder to the Gunners’ title ambitions.
Wales’ Ramsey too, following his side’s defeat to Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-final, has come out saying that he fears he may not be match fit for Arsenal’s first league fixture against Liverpool on August 14th.
Wenger is known to give players a four week hiatus to recover from international duties and for both Ramsey and Mesut Ozil, this puts their return date at August 1st, giving them barely two weeks to prepare for the season opener.
If Wenger’s four week rule does apply then both Giroud and Koscielny might not return to training until the second week of August, meaning their return to the starting team is even further away.
In a league as competitive as the English Premier League and with a first fixture against Liverpool, Arsenal can ill-afford to be without their best players. The Gunners’ main rivals of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been strengthening their squads over the summer and while they too have had players on international duties, there are no reports of players not being ready for the new season.
As Arsene Wenger seeks to launch and sustain and title challenging campaign, Arsenal fans will already be feeling nervous about their team’s prospects for the new season.
With up to five of their first team now appearing to be unavailable for their vital Liverpool clash and in a league where Leicester City, last season’s surprise champions, only lost three times on their way to that title, it seems that Arsenal’s own title ambitions have already taken a serious blow before a ball has even been kicked.
How long then should we expect to wait before the #WengerOut campaign cranks up again next term?
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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