Arsenal’s pre-season campaign gets underway on Friday against Ligue 2 side Lens, but they will be without a number of key players after their exploits on the international stage this summer.
It’s a well-trodden path for Gunners’ stars after major tournaments under Arsene Wenger, with the Frenchman eager to give his international players time off before the new season begins.
After their 2014 World Cup success, Germany trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski were all absent for the opening game of the season and with Arsenal well represented at the latter stages of this summer’s Euro 2016 and Copa America, it could be a similar story this time around.
“You consider the rest time because France had a long, long go and I believe that they need four weeks’ holiday because they need to recover from that,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“It takes you two or three weeks to regenerate…to recover completely, and they need to come back with hunger. That disappointment to lose a final, it takes some time to recover from that.”
If Wenger is true to his word it would rule at least five first-team regulars out of the Gunners’ pre-season preparations and possibly their season opener against Liverpool, which is live on Sky Sports on August 14.
Here we take a look at the potential absentees…
Wenger has confirmed Giroud will not return for pre-season training until a week before the Premier League season starts.
The France international has been granted four weeks holiday after helping his national team reach the final of Euro 2016, and with Danny Welbeck injured it leaves the Gunners short of options up front.
It is no secret Arsenal are on the hunt for a striker in the transfer market but, after missing out on Jamie Vardy, and so far coming up short in their reported pursuit of Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, it leaves Chuba Akpom as the club’s only fit recognised striker, although Theo Walcott could fill in up front if required.
Like Giroud, Koscielny was a key man in France’s run to the Euro 2016 final, and is crucial at the centre of Arsenal’s defence.
Koscielny’s importance at the heart of Wenger’s backline cannot be overstated, but he is also set for an extended break after the tournament in France.
It will be left to Per Mertesacker, Gabriel and Calum Chambers to fill the void left in Arsenal’s defence by the Frenchman during pre-season, whose participation in the Gunners season-opener with Liverpool appearing to be in doubt.
Rewind 12 months and Sanchez’s participation in Arsenal’s first game of the season against West Ham was in question following Chile’s 2015 Copa America success.
Sanchez could only make the bench that day but was introduced for the final 23 minutes at the Emirates as Arsenal suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Slaven Bilic’s side.
With Chile once again lifting the Copa America this summer, Sanchez, who scored 13 league goals last season, will likely be afforded similar time off to that of his French team-mates.
His absence would be a huge blow for the Gunners, with the 27-year-old scoring three goals on his way to the Copa America Golden Ball.
Ozil was a key figure as Germany reached the last four at Euro 2016 and is no stranger to Wenger’s policy after major tournaments, after missing Arsenal opening game of the 2014/15 season following Germany’s World Cup win.
The 27-year-old was an influential figure for the Gunners in the league last term, laying on 19 assists.
Ramsey was the one of the driving forces behind Wales’ run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
The Welshman scored once and grabbed four assists on his way to being named in the team of the tournament in France, but has already admitted he could miss the start of the new season.
“I am back on the August 1 so I have a few weeks off but obviously it kicks off a couple of weeks afterwards,” Ramsey said.
“I know [Arsene likes to give players a long rest] – a few years ago Germany won the World Cup and they came in just a few days before the first game of the season but they missed that. So he does like to give players a little break and I’ll be getting the same treatment. I feel I need a few weeks off now.”
The Olympics Games could also get in the way of Arsenal’s preparations for the new campaign with three members of Wenger’s squad set for Rio.
New signing Takuma Asano will definitely be involved with Japan, while Serge Gnabry has been named in Germany’s squad. Alex Iwobi could also be involved having been named in Nigeria’s provisional squad.
The tournament runs from August 3-20 which potentially rules all three players out of Arsenal’s final pre-season preparations and their opening Premier League game at home to Liverpool.
However, if Germany, Japan or Nigeria went all the way to the final then Gnabry, Asano or Iwobi would not be available until Arsenal’s third game of the season at Watford.
Jack Wilshere is already back in training following England’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign, as is Joel Campbell, who was part of the Costa Rica side that suffered a group stage exit at the Copa America.
Petr Cech and Hector Bellerin were also at Euro 2016 and with Czech Republic and Spain both exiting the tournament in the last 16 – the same round as England – they can be expected back in training very soon.
New signing Granit Xhaka was another Arsenal player to leave Euro 2016 at the first knockout stage and Wenger will want to get him up to speed before Arsenal kick-off against Liverpool.
David Ospina helped Colombia reach the semi-finals of the Copa America but is expected to be back before the Premier League campaign gets underway.
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