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Arsenal without 7 first team stars for season opener vs Liverpool
Arsene Wenger is set to be without a staggering SEVEN first team regulars when Arsenal entertain Liverpool on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.
We welcome the Merseysiders to the Emirates on Sunday August 14th, in little over two weeks time, but the boss is already facing a selection crisis ahead of the big game.
Per Mertesacker is the latest casualty as the German defender has been ruled out for five months with a serious knee injury that he picked up during our 1-1 friendly draw at Lens last week.
Alexis Sanchez is due to fly-in to London shortly to begin his pre-season preparations after he was granted extended leave after helping Chile retain the Copa America last month.
However, the attacker is expected to sit out the Liverpool game as not only will he be short of fitness but he’s also still nursing an ankle injury that he suffered during the Copa America final win over Argentina.
To make matters worse, we’re also set to be without Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud following their exploits at this summers European Championships.
Ramsey helped Wales in to the semi-finals while Ozil also featured in the last four for Germany and the duo aren’t due to resume pre-season training until the middle of next week meaning they’ll have less than ten days to get fit for the Liverpool game.
Losing Euro 2016 finalists Koscielny and Giroud will have even less time to prepare as they French duo won’t be back in training until around the 7th August leaving them less than a week to get ready for the big kick off.
Arsene Wenger admitted he made a mistake rushing Sanchez back too soon last summer with the Chilean featuring in the opening game after just 10 days pre-season training and the boss has promised not to make the same mistake again.
Therefore, I think it’s safe to say it’s highly unlikely we’ll see any of Ramsey, Giroud, Ozil or Koscielny playing against Liverpool and with Danny Welbeck already on the sidelines recovering from the serious knee injury, we’re set to be without SEVEN first team regulars.
It’s a disastrous situation to be in, particularly as we’ve only brought in two major signings and only Granit Xhaka is expected to contest a regular spot in the first team as Rob Holding is likely to be nothing more than a back-up defender.
I personally don’t think we’ll see Xhaka start against Liverpool either as Wenger said earlier this week that he’s lacking in match fitness and it would be a big ask to see him thrown straight in against one of the big boys.
The lengthy list of absentees is likely to see the likes of Gabriel, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Iwobi and Walcott all start against Liverpool in two weeks time.
This is my best guess at our starting eleven on August 14:
It’s certainly not a bad side but a long way short of our best eleven so we’ll do extremely well to pick up all three points on the opening weekend of the new season.