By Dominic Toner
Santi Cazorla might not be fit for the start of the season, according to Arsene Wenger.
The Spaniard made his first pre-season appearance for Arsenal in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Mexican club Guadalajara as he is eased back in to training following a long-term lay-off.
“At the moment he is not completely there on the fitness front. That’s why I took him off at half-time,” Wenger told ESPN FC. “He’s a bit behind the others physically but I think he will be alright, maybe not on 15 August, but at the end of August he should be alright.”
Arsenal commence their Premier League campaign against Liverpool on 15 August and were already set to be without six senior players for the clash before Cazorla’s slow progress was announced.
The Mail reported that Arsenal were sweating on the fitness of Alexis Sanchez for the first game of the season and are also facing the absences of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil after their involvement at Euro 2016.
Jack Wilshere also picked up a pre-season knock and has been ruled out for one week, although Wenger has said he should recover in time for the Premier League start.
The last time Arsenal met Liverpool in the league was back in January in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Anfield.
Cazorla missed five months of last season with knee and achilles injuries and the 31-year-old will hoping for an injury-free campaign.
The midfielder has made 169 Arsenal appearances since he joined in 2012 and has been hugely influential when he has been fit.
Cazorla has scored 27 goals and added 42 assists in all competitions during his Gunners career and was named Arsenal’s Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season.
In other Arsenal team news, Wenger has claimed that his midfielder must step up to fulfil his immense potential.