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Inside Arsenal's Dubai training camp: Who is going, what's happening and what about transfers?

1:00 PM GMT+4 26/01/2022
Martin Odegaard Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal 2021-22
Mikel Arteta and his Gunners squad will arrive in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday as they aim to put their winless January behind them

It is a mid-season break that could not have come at a better time for Arsenal.

The Gunners’ squad has been decimated in recent weeks through a mixture of injuries, Covid-19 and players being away on international duty.

Performances have suffered as a result, with Mikel Arteta’s side going winless throughout January.

They played five games during the opening month of 2022 in all competitions, losing three and drawing two - going out of both domestic cup competitions in the process.

It has been a miserable few weeks which have also seen them lose ground in the race for a top-four finish, so a training camp in Dubai could be just what the doctor ordered for Arsenal.

“The players are really tired, “ Mikel Arteta admitted after Sunday’s disappointing 0-0 draw with bottom-of-the-table Burnley.

“We had a really demanding and challenging situation in the last four weeks because some players have been sick, injured, and we’ve trying to bring them back, trying to expose them onto pitches when they’ve not been ready.

“We’re going to have a training camp all together in a different environment. We’re going to reunite, refocus and have a good go, because there's still a lot to play for.”

Arsenal’s first-team squad have been given some time off since the Burnley game on Sunday, with the training camp not due to get under way until they fly out on Thursday morning.

Several players, along with their wives and partners, have already travelled over to the United Arab Emirates, however, and are enjoying some down time before the rest of the squad and coaching staff arrive later in the week, with the first training session scheduled for late on Thursday afternoon.

One player who is not expected to travel, however, is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The former captain, who has not played since December 6, is the subject of growing transfer interest and looks set to remain to England where he will continue to train alone while talks continue over his future.

Arsenal will remain in Dubai until Wednesday, February 2, as Arteta looks to get his squad in the best possible shape ahead of the second half of the season, which gets underway against Wolves on February 10.

But the trip is not just about training, Arteta wants to use the time away as an opportunity to bring the squad together.

There will be team bonding sessions held throughout Arsenal’s stay, as well as the odd sponsorship event - with Dubai the home of Arsenal’s primary sponsors, Emirates.

The Gunners are not due to play a friendly while they are away, with the current plan to organise a behind-closed-doors training ground game once they return next week.

While Arteta will be with the squad, technical director Edu and director of football operations Richard Garlick will remain in England at the club’s London Colney training base.

They are staying behind to work on any transfer deals that could take place before next Monday’s transfer deadline, with Arsenal still in the market for a goalkeeper, a midfielder and a striker.

Whether any new signings arrive remains to be seen, but Edu and other senior figures at the club want to remain on home soil to ensure they can get something done if an opportunity arises, with a move for United States goalkeeper Matt Turner believed to be progressing well.

“It's what we planned, but the market is difficult, it's complicated,” Arteta said on Sunday, when asked if he expected to have some new signings on board by now.

“We are certainly trying, but I don't know if we're going to be able to do it [before deadline day].

“Players that come here have to be able to take us to the next level. We already have a level, and we want to see much better standards than we already have, and that is how we're going to recruit.”

With Arsenal out in Dubai until Wednesday, the plan is for any new recruit to fly out and join the squad on the trip, should they arrive in time.

Arteta is currently in America, where he has been holding talks with Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke.

The pair were spotted together in Denver on Monday evening watching Kroenke’s Colorado Avalanche win their 16th straight home game in the NHL.

Due to the pandemic, Arteta has been unable to spend much face-to-face time with Arsenal’s owner in the past two years, so he wanted to take this opportunity to fly out and meet with him.

The Spaniard’s trip to the States comes amid growing suggestions of a possible contract extension. It is not believed, however, that this visit was centred around any specific topic.

Arteta is expected to fly straight to Dubai from America, but neither Stan Kroenke - or his son Josh - are believed to be joining him.

With Arsenal’s manager keen to use the time away to bring his squad closer together, even players who are currently struggling with injuries - such as Takehiro Tomiyasu - are expected to travel to the training camp.

A number of youngsters - including rising star Charlie Patino - are also set to travel, with a group of around 30 players set to make up the numbers.