Arsenal’s squad for the pre-season tour of the Asia-Pacific has been ravaged by illness, after making a rapid transition from the relative chill of the Australian winter to the full heat of the Chinese summer this week.
The London club scored a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw before beating Bayern Munich on penalties, in the opening match of their International Champions Cup campaign in Shanghai on Wednesday, despite a string of players falling ill.
Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud were unable to take to the pitch, while Sead Kolasinac was forced to come off after vomiting on the pitch with Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey also feeling unwell.
Some media reports suggested the players were suffering from food poisoning, while manager Arsene Wenger ascribed the sickness to “a little virus”.
The Frenchman conceded that a trip from London to Australia, where Arsenal played two games in front of more than 160,000 fans, and then on to China was hardly the best way to get ready for the new season.
“It was a bit of a shock coming here from Australia, where we were freezing at times,” he told reporters.
“If you ask me is it ideal physically to prepare, certainly not. But it does have other advantages because we can meet fans all over the world so that is a positive.
“The bonding in the team is easier as well because we live together for two weeks, so on that front it can be very positive.
“But the real answer will be given by the way we start in the Premier League.”
The travelling continues for the club this week with their next match a friendly against English champions Chelsea at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing on Saturday. (Reuters/NAN)