Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal trio Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny will miss the Premier League opener against Liverpool following their extended holidays.
The three players have yet to return to training after being given a four-week break following Euro 2016, and Wenger said Friday they will not be match fit for the season opener next Sunday.
"The Liverpool game will come too early for them," Wenger said after the Gunners' 8-0 rout of Norwegian side Viking in Stavanger.
It leaves Wenger without his top playmaker, striker and centre-back for what is a difficult start to the season, with the Gunners travelling to champions Leicester the following weekend. It also increases the pressure on the Arsenal boss to sign a centre-back and a striker, with the Frenchman having been unable to complete deals so far.
Giroud's absence leaves Wenger with only Theo Walcott and youngster Chuba Akpom as his striker options, unless he chooses to play either Alexis Sanchez or Joel Campbell up front. Walcott netted his first goal of the preseason against Viking, with Akpom grabbing his third. Campbell had a brace while playing on the wing.
Wenger is hoping to have Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey available for the Liverpool game, although neither dressed for the game against Viking. They are expected to feature against Manchester City on Sunday in Gothenburg, Sweden, after returning to training this week.
Wenger has previously said Santi Cazorla may not be fully match fit for the Liverpool game either, but the Spaniard started against Viking and was arguably the best player on the pitch. Cazorla scored Arsenal's second goal with a long-range strike after missing an early penalty, and was at the heart of much of the Gunners' attacking play while filling Ozil's No. 10 role.
"It's his first 90 minutes in a long time," Wenger said. "We need him back in good shape. He's a pleasure to watch."