Arsenal are set to be without their World Cup-winning stars Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski for the start of the Premier League season.
The German trio have been given extra time off having won the World Cup with their country in Brazil earlier this month and will thus not be ready for the Gunners' opening meeting with Crystal Palace on Aug. 16.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he knows from experience that it is best to give players time to recover after a major tournament, per Nick Callow in The Daily Mirror:
I have given them a good break because I have experience of players who have been in the World Cup Final. You need a rest. Will they be ready? Mertesacker prepares well - but for the first game... I don’t think they will be ready for August 16. [...]
From FIFA we are obliged to give four weeks' holiday to the players, so I don’t know how all that works together. It looks impossible to me. A post-World Cup year is always very difficult for every big club because the players have been away.
Of the three, only Ozil was a regular starter for the German team as they claimed their fourth World Cup crown in Brazil—their first since 1990.
The 25-year-old was replaced by Mertesacker in the last minute of extra-time as Joachim Low's side beat Argentina 1-0 in the final on July 13, while Podolski remained on the bench.
Wenger will be looking for a strong start to the Gunners' campaign in the English top-flight as he aims to win a first Premier League title since 2004, after ending a nine-year trophy drought with last season's FA Cup triumph.
However, Tony Pulis' Palace will pose a threat after finishing last season well, although Arsenal's home advantage gives them the edge despite their missing trio.
As does the fact that Wenger has made some astute signings so far this summer, including that of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez. The deal has been praised by many, including the BBC's Gary Lineker and The Independent's Kevin Garside:
The former Barcelona winger was one of the stars of the World Cup as Chile made it to the last 16 and he should add a new dimension to the Gunners' play.
However, Arsenal will be looking to the return of their German contingent as soon as possible as Mertesacker is vital defensively—as he showed last season—while Ozil and Podolski are important options in attack.
Gunners fans will be hoping that the trio's World Cup triumph can galvanise them to contribute well to a Premier League-winning effort in 2014-15.