Alexis Sanchez to miss Arsenal's Premier League opener - Wenger
SINGAPORE -- Chile international Alexis Sanchez will miss Arsenal's opening game of the 2015-16 Premier League season, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal face West Ham United on Aug. 9 but the 26-year-old forward won't be rushed into action after a gruelling Copa America campaign.
Sanchez took the decisive penalty in the shootout as the Chileans upset Argentina in the Copa America final in Santiago earlier this month.
"He'll be back with us on Aug. 3 and it takes about three weeks to competitive," Wenger told a news conference in Singapore, where Arsenal are competing in the Barclays Asia Trophy. "It could take him a little bit less time [to get match fit] but he'll miss our first game."
Wenger added that another of his forwards, Danny Welbeck, would be fit well before the start of the Gunners' campaign, despite dropping out of the trip to Singapore due to a knee injury.
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"Danny's injury is a minor one but it look much longer to settle than we expected," Wenger said. "But he will be part of the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament [on July 25-26]."
Arsenal will face the Singapore Select XI on the opening day of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Wednesday night after Everton play Stoke City at the Singapore National Stadium.
It is the North London club's first trip to island state since 1991 and Wenger admitted that he wasn't familiar with the home side.
"I honestly don't know anything about them," he said. "But having worked in Asia before I am expecting a very mobile, very quick and very disciplined team who have been preparing to play Arsenal for a long time."
Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech -- a recent recruit from Chelsea -- is expected to play a part in the game.
Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker said that the four time Premier League winner had already made a big impression in the Gunners' dressing room.
"From day one, you feel his presence and his type of communication on and off pitch," Mertesacker said. "He speaks several languages and he can add that extra [something] we may have missed. We are very happy to have him and he makes us stronger."
Meanwhile, Singapore Select XI coach V. Sundramoorthy -- one of the region's best creative midfielders in his heyday -- vowed to stick by his attack-minded principles.
"We are not going to park the bus and we'll play entertaining football," he said. "But we've got to play cleverly as well by limiting Arsenal's space to give ourselves a chance to try to win this game."
Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud admitted that the challenge ahead of him could be even greater that facing up to Japan in Saitama last month. Izwan made 18 saves as the Singaporeans secured a heroic 0-0 draw with the four time Asian champions in an AFC World Cup qualifier.
"Facing Arsenal will be a big honour and I'm looking forward to standing in the tunnel with them... we will cherish it," he said.
"I looked up to Petr Cech when I was young -- he's one of best - and if I get a chance to talk to him I will ask him about goalkeeping. I am still learning and I want to learn from the best."
The winners of the Arsenal vs. Singapore Select XI game will advance to Saturday's final, also played at the Singapore National Stadium.