Mikel Arteta suggested his Arsenal side is evolving without Mesut Ozil as the club’s highest-paid player again missed out on the squad for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at Leicester.
The Gunners made seven changes at the King Power Stadium as a Christian Fuchs own goal and late Eddie Nketiah tap-in sealed a 2-0 victory for the visitors.
Despite those alterations there was still no room in the matchday squad for either Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi, who have yet to kick a ball this season.
Ozil has not been involved at all since Project Restart having previously started every Premier League game under Arteta before lockdown.
Asked why the World Cup winner had fallen out of favour, Arteta replied: “The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving.
“This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better.
We need to keep maintaining that.
“I’m really happy with the performance here, how difficult they’re making things for the coaching staff to select the squad.
— Eddie Nketiah 📞 (@EddieNketiah9) September 23, 2020
“We are picking the players that we believe are the best for each game. You can see we keep training, it’s what we’re trying to do.
“You can see that the players we are changing, we are using, it’s very difficult every week not for Mesut but for some other players as well to make the squad. Every week we try to pick the right players.
“Of course I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”
Arsenal will face either Lincoln or Liverpool in round four and, if Jurgen Klopp’s Reds win on Thursday, it means two quick trips to Anfield for Arteta and his players.
New @premierleague fixture information 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 23, 2020
The Premier League game on Monday night has been moved forwards to an 8pm kick-off to fall in line with new Covid guidelines for pub closing times.
“You can imagine, probably the toughest place to go in Europe or the world. That’s the fixtures, we have to go there,” Arteta added on the prospect of two away games against the champions.
“Let’s go first on Monday, let’s prepare well and see how it goes.”
While Arteta shuffled his pack, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers played with an entire new deck as the Foxes side showed 11 alterations from Sunday’s win over Burnley.
“I think if we are going to lose a game, I would lose in that way in terms of the players showed good energy in the game,” Rodgers said following the defeat.
“There were moments of quality in it and even though there were lots of players playing their first minutes of the season the cohesion in the team was very good.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the goals, that was the only criticism – it was two scruffy goals that we lost to.”
Wilfred Ndidi was not involved for Leicester and Rodgers revealed after the match that the Nigeria international may be sidelined for up to 12 weeks with an abductor injury suffered against Burnley.
“We are just waiting to hear more on that, but he could be anything between six and 12 weeks,” he said.
“It is an abductor injury – it may have come off the bone which could be a nasty injury, so we will wait to see if needs an operation – it does then it will be 12 weeks.”