Arsene Wenger claims Arsenal’s hectic summer schedule will have his players fit and ‘as sharp as possible’ to start the new season.
The Gunners’ boss is already facing the prospect of being without the likes of France international duo Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny and Germany’s Mesut Ozil following their Euro 2016 exploits when they reached the final and semi-finals respectively.
The trio have been given time off to recharge their batteries and will only have returned for a fortnight when Arsenal open their Premier League campaign with a clash against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 14.
The title-hopefuls then face a trip to champions Leicester the following week so Wenger is looking for the players who will be involved to hit the ground running against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
The Frenchman is confident five friendlies – against Lens, an MLS All-Stars team, Chivas de Guadalajara, Viking Stavanger and Manchester City – in the next four weeks in France, the United States and Scandinavia, will stand them in good stead.
“Let’s not forget that we play Liverpool and Leicester in the first two games so we have to be ready physically and fitness-wise,” he told the club website. “What has changed compared to 10 or 15 years ago is that the players come back basically fit today.”
He added: “[We want the players] to be as sharp as possible. Look at the schedule we have, it is a very difficult schedule and we must focus on the players who are here because they are certainly the players who will start the season.
“We have a nice variety. I wanted a game before we travelled to the States, and the States will be interesting as well. After that we travel to Scandinavia.”
Punters may choose to use their free bet to back the Gunners to be on top of their game at the start of the season and win their opening three matches.