Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says midfielder Santi Cazorla may not be fully fit at the start of the season. Cazorla made his first appearance of the preseason by playing the first half of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Mexican club Guadalajara in Los Angeles on Sunday as Wenger eases him back into action.
The Spaniard missed five months of last season with a serious knee injury before picking up an Achilles problem, but started the last game of the Premier League campaign.
Wenger says the midfielder may not have regained full match fitness by the start of the new season, potentially adding to his shortage of players for the opening game against Liverpool on Aug. 14.
“At the moment he is not completely there on the fitness front. That’s why I took him off at half-time,” Wenger said at his postmatch news conference.
“He’s a bit behind the others physically but I think he will be alright, maybe not on Aug. 15, but at the end of August he should be alright.”
That’s more bad news for Wenger as Arsenal open the season at home to Liverpool on August 14 before traveling to the home of the Champions Leicester on August 20.
Last week Arsenal lost center back Per Mertesacker for the first five months of the season with a knee injury and midfielder Jack Wilshere is already missing preseason games with what Wenger calls “a slight patella problem”.
Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey have just now started training, while Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny are still on vacation.
There is a possibility that in a season where they need to get off to a good start to appease a fan base that is not happy with the Gunners lack of action in the transfer market that Arsenal could start the game against Liverpool without Mertesacker, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud and Koscielny in the starting XI and having to put Ramsey and Sanchez on the bench.