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Wenger: Don't scapegoat Ozil

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 Posted by Kevin Palmer
Aug 16, 2014

Wenger: Prem season starting too soon

Arsenal are finally building a team to challenge for the Premier League, according to former Gunner Nigel Winterburn.

LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his preparations for the new Premier League season have been compromised by his player's participation in the latter stages of this summer's World Cup finals.

German World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski will all miss the opening couple of games of the Gunners' campaign after their late return to Arsenal training last Monday.

And Wenger has suggested the kickoff to the English league season could have been delayed this summer.

"We had 11 players at the World Cup and many of them had longer holidays after that," said Wenger whose side start the season on Saturday versus Crystal Palace.

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"The final of the World Cup was on July 13, the start of the Premier League is Aug. 16. If you want to give some holiday to the players, your preparation becomes very short."

Wenger said he believes the Premier League season and Champions League should have been delayed at least a week, adding that if players aren't given appropriate time off they are at a greater risk of injury.

He said: "For example, you have Thiago Silva [who played for Brazil at the World Cup] and David Luiz who came back a bit earlier [for Paris Saint-Germain]. They played straight away. Thiago Silva is out for a month, David Luiz is injured as well.

"In FIFA rules, you have to give four weeks holiday to the players after the domestic season. They need a breather. I have had the experience of post-World Cup years and they are always difficult years to get everyone back to the same level, mentally and physically."

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEWS

As we count down to kickoff on Aug. 16, ESPN FC previews all 20 teams in this season's competition. Can Burnley, QPR and Leicester stay up? Will the new signings of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Adam Lallana help usurp Man City's crown? Will Manchester United get back on track under Louis van Gaal?

Wenger went on to confirm he is eager to make additional signings in the transfer window, as he hinted a replacement for the departed Thomas Vermaelen -- who joined Barcelona earlier this month -- may be on his agenda.

"If we find a candidate, I don't rule it out," he stated. "We have many games to play. If [Calum] Chambers goes into midfield, we are short at the back. If we find somebody, we will do it."

Wenger added that he was confident new Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta would agree to a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of this season, but he admitted talks have yet to take place over a new deal for the Spanish midfielder.

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