Mesut Özil was mysteriously absent from training ahead of our clash with Sunderland, which rather worryingly suggests he won’t play a part in the first game of our FA Cup defence.
The pictures below from our most recent training session show the squad most likely to face off against the Black Cats this Saturday, and there are unfortunately a couple of omissions. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil are the two big names missing from the pictures, but most of us were aware that the Chilean might not return just yet.
Özil on the other hand, would have been expected to play a part this weekend, and we can only speculate as to why he was absent from training.
Wenger hinted ahead of the game that he was unsure about whether or not to rest the German international, but hopefully that’s all it is – an Özil injury would be every Arsenal fan’s worst nightmare right now.
“Not really,” Wenger replied, when asked whether he would be resting players (via the Mirror).
“Ozil I don’t know but Theo Walcott is not overloaded with games.”
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“He [Walcott] has not played too many games since the start of the season. He has been out for a while so he does not look like he needs a rest.”
Nobody else major is missing from the training snaps below, so hopefully there’s nothing sinister going on.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 8, 2016
Wenger has stressed previously that Özil doesn’t train too hard between games (via Sky Sports), so perhaps he’s being given a midweek break so he’s well rested for the weekend. The natural quality the 27-year-old boasts means he can influence games with minimal effort, but the distances he’s covered over the course of the campaign shows he’s anything but unfit.
Even if he is unavailable this weekend we should be more than capable of getting the win, but with injuries already a problem the team would need to be fiddled with. Aaron Ramsey or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would probably have to play in the No.10 role, unless Wenger opted for a totally new formation.
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Whatever the case, hopefully the creative playmaker is back in time for our Premier League clash with Liverpool.