Is Arsenal's title bid already in doubt amid fitness concerns?
Wenger says squad cohesion is his focus, as Welbeck fights injury and Sanchez takes a break
The new Premier League season is still three weeks away but Arsene Wenger is already bemoaning his luck with injuries and has confirmed that last season's star player will not be available for the Gunners' opening games next season.
However, he has also risked the ire of the fans by claiming that Arsenal already have a squad that is strong enough to challenge for the Premier League title and he will use pre-season friendlies to decide if he needs to bring in any new signings.
The Gunners are in Singapore on the first leg of their pre-season tour, where Wenger spoke about the players he already has at his disposal. "I believe we have the quality, and it's now about how much we can be stronger together," he said.
One player Wenger will not be able to call on at the start of the season is Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who enjoyed a stellar first season at the Emirates and followed it up by helping his country win the Copa America.
"The former Barcelona man hasn't travelled to Singapore with Arsenal, with Wenger deciding to give him an extended rest after the mentally and physically draining challenge of winning a tournament in his home country," explains the Daily Mirror. He will join the Gunners on 3 August, but the manager does not expect him to be "competitive" and ready for action until the third week of the season at best.
Danny Welbeck, who is not on tour, has also been fighting injury but should be fit for the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament. Wenger said he hoped the striker would be available in a week, but hinted at trouble ahead when he said the length of time he had taken to recover from a knee problem was "unbelievable".
"Welbeck has still not recovered from the pain he had from bone-bruising," said the Frenchman. "It is unbelievable because there is no major damage there. He is supposed to start running again at the end of the week."
One player who will definitely miss out on the season openers is Tomas Rosicky who will not be fit for "four or five weeks" after also injuring a knee on international duty.