After throwing away a four-goal lead in perhaps the most startling game of last season's Premier League, the Gunners expect the Dutch striker to be fit for this campaign's openerManager Arsene Wenger says Dutch striker Robin van Persie should be fit to lead the line for Arsenal in their Premier League opener at Newcastle on Saturday.
The forward, who is expected to captain the Gunners in the absence of Cesc Fabregas, will have a final fitness test on Friday along with left-back Kieran Gibbs.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Wenger said of his new-look squad: “Basically we change it, hopefully in the short term.
“Abou Diaby is not back for August or the beginning of September. Everybody else should be available, more or less match fit, but not injured.
“Van Persie and Gibbs should be available. They have a fitness test today, especially Van Persie because he is still having problems with his knee but we hope he can get through that.
“Theo Walcott will be back in the squad and Thomas Vermaelen as well.”
Despite the off-pitch drama currently surrounding the club, Wenger believes his side are ready and motivated to focus on the match ahead.
“We are full of confidence and ambition and desire to do well,” he said.
“People forget that normally 4-4 is a good football game because you see eight goals,” Wenger continued when asked about the extraordinary match that took place in this fixture last season.
“We had an exceptional first half in that game and we were only caught back when we played with 10 men, undeservedly so.
“They got two penalties under very special circumstances. On the day we were a bit unlucky.”
The French coach also took a moment to praise new arrival Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the 17-year-old signing from Southampton who joined the club this week.
“He has exceptional qualities,” Wenger added.
“I believe we were after this boy for a long long time and we believe in him.
“We want to build a strong basis of local players and feel he will be one of the future big English talents.”
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