The press conferences are coming thick and fast for Mikel Arteta. No sooner does he end one Zoom call, he seems to be on another.
By and large, you can pretty much guess the themes of the questions in advance.
Outside of team news and his thoughts on performances, he’s usually pressed on transfer rumours (Thomas Partey? No comment), contract extension negotiations (Will Auba sign da ting? Don’t know) and disciplinary matters (Is Guendouzi in the stocks? Yes).
And there’s always, without fail, a good probing about Mesut Ozil; our gifted midfielder, one-time record signing, highest-earner and regular absentee.
On Tuesday, the boss batted away seven questions about the German. On Friday, ahead of the trip to Wolves, it was more of the same.
The BBC and Evening Standard had already touched on Ozil when a reporter from The Express was handed the mic at the tail-end of the section dedicated to the written press.
He started by posing a question on behalf of the Daily Telegraph.
After that…well, we’ll let you be the judge of things.
MD: As you know, we’re asking questions on behalf of other people in the room. Sam Dean from The Telegraph is concerned that Ozil has now missed two games with back soreness. Are you able to explain the precise nature of the injury and is it a chronic problem that might keep recurring over the coming years?
MA: I don’t know, I’m not the medical expert to answer that question.
MD: But you’ve got some medical experts who presumably could tell you…
MA: Yeah, they could say that. But I haven’t asked that specific question. At the moment, the situation is like last week.
MD: I’m just interested, on Mesut Ozil’s injury record, in the three and a half years before he came to Arsenal he didn’t miss a single game through injury and now this is his eighteenth time that he’s missed games due to a medical problem. You were supposed to be injury-prone and I looked up your record, you only had 14 injuries in 15 years. It seems an incredible amount of minor niggles on one player. Is there something about him that makes him susceptible to this? Is it something the medical team can get on top of or is it just something you’ve got to accept?
MA: I think the medical department will try to assess the situation the best possible way and will try to treat him as well as they possibly can. Everybody is different and everybody adapts in a different way to treatment. It’s not something that I have much to say [about].
MD: If you’ll forgive me for saying, it seems you’re very blase about injuries to a player who picks up so much in terms of salary and who, presumably, could be such a great player…the fact that you don’t know exactly what his condition is seems at odds with a player of his stature. We hear about Harry Kane’s toe and ligaments every week in every minor detail and other key players, you hear about every single little bit of their injury and yet here’s a player who could be an integral part of the team, a key part of the team and you’re just leaving it to the medical department. Is that because he’s not particularly part of your thoughts at the moment?
MA: I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to compare players with different situations, different injuries. At the moment I just say what information that I have.
MD: You don’t seem to be asking any questions of the medical department, is that standard or is that just…
MA: I asked the questions. They give me the answers and they are enough answers for me.
MD: Fair enough, there’s no point going…
[At this point he posed a question on behalf of The Sun about Nune Espirito Santo.]
No doubt there will be more questions about Ozil on Saturday, whether he makes the squad or not.