Arsenal: Wenger blames preparation; Mustafi drags on; French striker open to move
Arsene Wenger faced the media after Arsenal’s 4-3 opening day defeat to Liverpool, and argued that the Gunners were underprepared for the new season.
Arsenal have given extended breaks to Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil following this summer’s European Championships.
Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey also started the season after truncated preparations as Arsenal started the season with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding in central defence and no traditional striker.
Wenger said: “We pushed players today like Ramsey. It is an impossible situation to get players back from the Euros and prepare.
“We played a very good first half and were unlucky to concede a goal just before halftime and after that, we paid for a lack of experience. We are not ready physically.”
Arsenal have won just one of their last seven opening day games, so there is clearly a problem with pre-season scheduling (interestingly, this run started around the time Arsenal started long-haul pre-season tours).
It is worth remembering that Everton started the season with Gerard Deulofeu up front and Chelsea have just four fit senior defenders, so Arsenal are far from exceptional.
However, speaking after Arsenal’s pre-season win over Manchester City eight days ago, Wenger said: “We could see that we have played together for a while now, so there’s a good fluidity and understanding in our game and reading of each other.
“I felt our transition from defence to attack was good, defending was good for the most part and physically we look ready.”
Nor would many Arsenal fans have said Arsenal looked underprepared during the first half yesterday, so there is a degree of revisionism at work here.
Meanwhile, Wenger has Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi firmly in his sights to ease Arsenal’s defensive shortage and the Daily Star say the German international is desperate to join.
Personal terms have been agreed, but the two clubs are still negotiating over the final transfer fee, believed to be in the region of £28 million.
Arsenal’s need gets greater by the day, so you would expect this to be sorted in the coming days and with Koscielny returning for Saturday’s trip to Leicester, Arsenal’s backline could look a great deal stronger.
Finally, Alexandre Lacazette, who scored a hat-trick yesterday, has told French TV station Canal Football Club that he could still leave Lyon this summer if the right offer comes in.
Lacazette said: “If there are offers that can’t be refused, I’d like to not refuse them.”
Wenger hasn’t taken the bait yet this summer, presumably because he believes somebody better than Lacazette will become available late in the window.
That strategy carries risk however, and with Arsenal in need of bodies up front Wenger may well be pushed into a compromise.
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