Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey rushed back in bid to make Arsenal's opener v Liverpool
Arsene Wenger is preparing to unexpectedly take Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey on Arsenal’s pre-season trip to Scandinavia this weekend in an attempt to fast-track them back into his squad for the Premier League opener against Liverpool.
Both players returned to training this weekend following their summer successes with Wales and Chile and, providing there is no late fatigue, they will travel tomorrow to Norway ahead of matches against Viking FK on Friday night and then Manchester City in Gothenburg on Sunday.
It is a clear sign that Wenger wants both players for the Liverpool match, when Sanchez will also be an option to play as the main central striker in the likely absence of Olivier Giroud.
Mesut Ozil, Giroud and Laurent Koscielny will only return next week for full training and are therefore unlikely to be available to start against Liverpool. Sanchez helped Chile win the Copa America for the second consecutive year during the summer while Ramsey was part of the Wales team that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Ramsey was suspended for the semi-final defeat against Portugal, meaning that he is almost a week further ahead in his pre-season preparation than Ozil, whose Germany team also lost in the semi-final.
Jack Wilshere is also not expected to travel to Norway today after hurting his kneecap but remains confident of being available for the Liverpool match.
Sanchez’s likely availability will help ease Wenger’s shortage of attacking options, although Theo Walcott and Chuba Akpom remain alternative options as the main central striker.
Wenger is also still hoping to sign a striker, with Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette the main target amid what is now a very limited range of options following Jamie Vardy’s decision to stay at Leicester City, Alvaro Morata’s move back to Real Madrid and Gonzalo Higuain’s transfer to Juventus.
Germany’s Julian Draxler did say yesterday that he wanted to leave Wolfsburg but he is not a specialist in the striker role and is more in the winger-striker mould of a Walcott or Sanchez. Wenger had previously bid for Draxler when he was at Schalke and believed that he did have the potential to develop into more of a central player.