Security talks key as Arsenal ponder Middle East winter training camp

Mikel Arteta Crystal Palace Arsenal 11012020
The Gunners are planning an overseas training camp in February and have not ruled out the possibility of heading to Dubai

Arsenal will listen to recommendations from the club’s security team before deciding on a venue for a mid-season training camp during their winter break next month.

After visiting Burnley on February 2, Arsenal are not scheduled to play again until they host Newcastle on February 16, and boss Mikel Arteta is keen to use that fortnight to take his squad away for some time together in a warmer climate.

A potential trip to Dubai, a country they visited in March while Unai Emery was in charge, has not been ruled out due to the club’s sponsorship deal with Emirates, but Arsenal are mindful of the rising political tensions in the Middle East which have escalated after the United States ordered the killing of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani earlier in the month.

Iran then retaliated with targeted strikes on U.S. airbases in Iraq and accidently shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 passengers on board.

The situation has led to Manchester United cancelling plans to visit Qatar during their break in February, with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirming they will instead find somewhere in Europe to base themselves.

And Arteta has admitted that ensuring the squad’s safety will be the number priority during Arsenal’s own decision making process over the coming weeks.

“The security decision will be the priority,” said the Gunners’ head coach. “If we are advised by the club and the people making those decisions that it’s not safe we won’t be going anywhere.

Ozil Arsenal 2019

“We [have] talked about different options in this break to go away and live together a bit in a different environment with better weather conditions away from here.

“We still have a few things to look after from a club perspective and when we know all that we will confirm what we are doing. But at the moment we have two or three different options.”

Another major issue Arsenal could face in terms of planning their winter break is that it could be disrupted by a potential FA Cup replay.

The Gunners take on Bournemouth in the fourth round on Monday, January 27 and should that tie end in a draw, the replay will have to take place during the period the Premier League have left free for the winter break.

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Arteta admits that is far from ideal and says it is just another example of the football authorities not taking player welfare into consideration.

“We know where the priorities are with the fixtures, and the priority at the moment is not to protect the players and have everybody with the same condition,” said the Spaniard.

“So we could change from one scenario to the other, which is a little bit bizarre, but we cannot change it.”