Arsène Wenger has confirmed that none of Arsenal’s injured players will be fit to return for Monday’s clash with Liverpool, but that he expects Alexis Sánchez to be close to peak fitness. Arsenal enter the high-profile match on the back of a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace, which banished some of the disappointment from an opening loss at home to West Ham.
And Sánchez was crucial in that recovery. Only a substitute on the opening day, after returning to training just a week earlier following his exertions at the Copa America, the former Barcelona forward was back to the starting lineup at Selhurst Park and immediately set the tone with his intensity with and without the ball.
Wenger has continued to express his amazement with the Chilean’s fitness levels, even after such a limited preseason.
"I think on Monday night he will not be short, he will not be far from 100 percent," he said at his press conference on Friday. "It’s surprising because when he has not got the basic fitness, he has the mental resources to dig deep and to be combative and fight. And he also has the talent."
Arsenal will have no new fitness concerns as they prepare to welcome a Liverpool team that have won both of their opening matches. Indeed, Wenger will have the same squad available as last week, with Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky all still sidelined.
"We have nobody back from the players who did not play against Crystal Palace," Wenger said. "All of the players who were available at Crystal Palace should be available on Monday night."
Rosicky is sidelined for several months after recently undergoing surgery on his knee following an injury picked up on international duty earlier this summer. Welbeck, meanwhile, continues to sit out with the effects of a knee problem that ruled him out for the climax of last season.
Wilshere’s prognosis has been more positive, with an ankle problem picked up just ahead of the start of the season not as serious as first feared. Still, Wenger has confirmed that the midfielder will not be able to return until after the international break early next month.
"It is a bit too optimistic, it’s too early to think he would be playing for England," he said. "After the international break he has a chance, but before the international break he has no chance."
Arsenal, currently sitting in 11th place in the embryonic Premier League table, will take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park next Saturday ahead of the two week international layoff.
Liverpool are dealing with their own injury concerns ahead of their biggest test of the season. Manager Brendan Rodgers will be without Daniel Sturridge (hip), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Joe Allen (hamstring), while skipper Jordan Henderson (foot) is doubtful for the Arsenal match. Emre Can is expected to replace Henderson's place if he is not fit.