Mesut Ozil’s continued absence in the Arsenal squad is down to his condition, according to boss Mikel Arteta.
The Germany international’s future at the Emirates has been under the microscope for months and speculation heightened still further after his failure to make the squad for Wednesday’s EFL Cup win at Leicester.
The manager made seven changes from the Gunners’ Premier League win over West Ham on Saturday, but Ozil was still overlooked.
“I am really happy with the performance of the players here, how difficult they are making things for the coaching staff to select the squad,” Arteta said when quizzed at a press conference about the missing former Real Madrid man.
“The team is evolving and you can see the level they are achieving, so this is where we are at at the moment. We want to evolve more, play better and compete better, so we need to keep maintaining that trend.
“We are picking the players that we believe are the best for each game and as you can see, we keep changing, so this is what we are trying to do.”
The 31-year-old did not feature at all after the season restart in June and last turned out for the club since March 7.
Arteta added: “You can see that the players that we are changing and using every week, that it is very difficult – not just for Mesut but the rest of the players – for some to make the squad. Every week, we try to pick the right players.
“It is difficult for others as well who weren’t involved in the Premier League and they didn’t play tonight either. We have a squad of 26, 27 players at the moment and we cannot give all of them playing time.
“Of course I understand, I respect your questions, but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible and pick the players that, in my opinion, are in a better condition to play.”