Arsene Wenger has revealed that Germany trio Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are likely to miss the start of Arsenal’s Premier League season after they were given four-week's holiday following their World Cup success.
The Gunners get their campaign underway at home against Crystal Palace on 16 August, but the three are unlikely to feature as they will be on leave until 11 August, just five days before the clash against the Eagles.
With such a short time between their return and the first league game of the season, Wenger has confirmed that the will probably not feature in the match, and they will definitely miss both the Emirates Cup next weekend and the Community Shield clash against Manchester City at Wembley.
“I have given them a good break because I have experience of players who have been in the World Cup final. You need a rest,” said Wenger during the club’s trip to the United States to face the New York Red Bulls.
“Will they be ready? Mertesacker prepares well - but for the first game I don't think they will be ready for August 16.”
Their absence calls into question who will play for the Gunners in both the Community Shield showdown and their opening league match, given that back-up centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has been linked with a move to Manchester United throughout the summer.
Should Mertesacker be left out by Wenger, Vermaelen would be needed to start alongside Laurent Koscielny, but questions remain over whether he will still be at the club come 16 August. Wenger could even look to sign a new defender, given that his cover at centre-back left for Manchester City on a free transfer in the form of Bacary Sagna.
The midfield shouldn’t be too much of a worry, even though Özil was a regular starter throughout last season. With the addition of Sanchez and the return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to join the available options of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini, Wenger should have too many issues with choosing those behind striker Olivier Giroud.
Wenger went on to criticise the timing of the new season following the World Cup, with just over a month in-between the final that saw Germany beat Argentina and the beginning of the Premier League season.
“A post-World Cup year is always very difficult and short, the World Cup final was July 13th and the start of the Premier League is August 16,” added Wenger.
“From FIFA we are obliged to give four weeks holiday to the players, so I don't know how all that works together. It looks impossible to me.
“A post-World Cup year is always very difficult for every big club because the players have been away.”
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