Mikel Arteta says that January signing Mat Ryan hasn’t yet returned to training, putting his participation in doubt for this weekend’s trip to Aston Villa.
Bernd Leno will serve a one match suspension this weekend following his red card against Wolves, and should the Australian not make it, Alex Runarsson will play in goal.
It’s a strange situation given that the Icelandic international has been left out of the squad for the Europa League group stage, but he could well be called up to deputise for the German on Saturday.
Asked about Ryan’s fitness, Arteta said, “He’s not been available to train yet, and Alex is available so we will have the choice between him and Alex at the weekend.
“If Mat is able to train and they are both fit then we have a decision to make. If Mat is not fit then obviously Alex will be in goal.”
The on-loan Brighton man is an Arsenal fan, but Arteta made it clear there’s no room for sentiment or feeling sorry if he missed a rare chance to play for the club because of Leno’s suspension.
“This is football,” said Arteta. “These things happen, and unfortunately when you least need it they actually happen.
“But we’re more protected now having Mat in the squad, so let’s see if he’s fit.”
As for the criticism Runarsson has faced, particularly after a poor performance in the 4-1 defeat to Man City in the Carabao Cup, the manager was sanguine about what is expected in terms of performance levels at a club like Arsenal.
“This is what you face when you play for a big club,” said Arteta. “People expect you to go out and give your best, perform at the top level, and if you don’t you know you’re going to get that criticism.
“You know that before you join the club, that you are exposed all the time. To critics, and you know when you play really well everyone will be praising you more than at any other club.
“You have to be able to handle that pressure if you want to play here.
“We are here to support him, he’s played some games already, and he’s played some good games.
“Yes he had a difficult game against Man City but the other night he came on and I think he did well.
“He works really hard, he’s a really nice boy, really humble, and he needs to be away from all the comments to focus on his work and focus on improving so when he’s given the chance he can perform in the best possible way.”