After Arsenal’s 5-3 win over Barcelona in Los Angeles, Mikel Arteta was quizzed on a series of absentees from the matchday squad.
For the second game in a row, Folarin Balogun and Oleksandr Zinchenko were absent and they were joined on the sidelines by new boy Declan Rice.
Given Balogun’s recent decision to switch international allegiance to the United States, his absence this week has not gone unnoticed by the locals.
While the striker has been heavily linked with a move away, Arteta made clear in his post-game press conference that he wasn’t selected due to a fitness issue.
“He wasn’t available – he had a little foot injury, and he hasn’t been training with us, and he wasn’t available to us, that was the reason,” he explained.
On Rice and Zinchenko, he added: “Dec had quite a strong kick in training and didn’t want to take the risk, he wasn’t comfortable to train yesterday and today, and we decided not to play him.
“With Alex, he had a muscular injury again, unfortunately. He’s getting back – I think he’ll be back soon, but it’s a shame that he hasn’t been with us the whole tour.”
Arsenal aren’t wasting any time heading back to the UK. The players and staff went straight to the airport from SoFi Stadium and will board a plane to London in the coming hours.
We face Monaco at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday and then head to Wembley for the Community Shield on Sunday.