Mikel Arteta’s team selection for last night’s 3-0 defeat to Man City raised some eyebrows, with the inclusion of some young players ahead of more senior options.
Not for the first time though, it was the absence of Mesut Ozil that provided the biggest talking point, with the German omitted completely from the match day squad despite the fact up to nine substitutes could be named.
There was no injury, no illness, and afterwards the Arsenal boss was quizzed about his decision to leave the highest paid player and biggest star out altogether.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Arteta said, “It was for tactical reasons”, and didn’t go further.
In his post-game press conference, the 37 year old was a bit tiny more expansive, saying, “It was a tactical reason. I needed players in other positions as well and that’s why I decided to leave him out.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s what Unai Emery used to say when he left Ozil out of the squad when we all knew it wasn’t really for tactical reasons.
That with nine subs available to us, we couldn’t find any ‘tactical’ use for the German doesn’t make much sense. He wasn’t injured, nor was he ill, so you don’t need a first class degree in reading between the lines to figure there’s another reason as to why Arteta made that decision.
Whether it’s something he’ll talk about more in the coming days, or during his press conference later today as we prepare for the trip to Brighton Saturday remains to be seen.
But with football gone for three months, that Ozil immediately became the focus due to his absence is just one of the least surprising things we saw last night – and that includes whatever the hell that was from David Luiz.