15 August 2016

'We're not ready,' says Wenger after opening loss

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team were not physically ready for the Premier League season after opening the campaign with a chaotic 4-3 defeat at home to Liverpool.

With Per Mertesacker and Gabriel injured and Laurent Koscielny short of match fitness, Wenger deployed Calum Chambers, 21, and 20-year-old debutant Rob Holding at centre-back in Saturday’s game.

Like Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil are returning to fitness after Euro 2016 and to compound matters, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi were both forced off by injury in the second half.

“Physically we are not ready,” Wenger told reporters at the Emirates Stadium.

“You are in a Catch 22 situation with the Euros — do you give the players a rest and start the season without many of your players? Or do they play in this kind of game and get injured, like Ramsey today?

“We had many players that played very late in the Euros. Ramsey, Koscielny, Ozil, Giroud, they went to the semi-finals (at least). We had four players who went very late.”

Arsenal visit defending champions Leicester City on Saturday and Wenger is unsure whether Koscielny, Ozil and Giroud will be ready to return to action at the King Power Stadium.

“We will try, but when they have not enough preparation, they get injured,” he said.

“We have to be ready next week because we go to Leicester. But we’ll see first what we can do with the players who are preparing at the moment and how many players are injured today.

“Can they recover for next week? I don’t know. But we are not stupid. We prepared well the players we have in, but I think you have to consider we have been a bit unlucky as well.

“We have lost Mertesacker and Gabriel in preparation, and Koscielny is not fit. You have to sometimes accept that you cannot control absolutely everything, even if you try to be as intelligent as possible.”

Ramsey, who reached the semi-finals with Wales at Euro 2016, went off in the 61st minute after injuring his hamstring, two minutes after Nigeria forward Iwobi had succumbed to a thigh problem.


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