Mikel Arteta says his Arsenal side are evolving without Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker has not played a single minute for the Gunners since football returned after lockdown in June and hasn’t made any of Arteta’s squads for the opening three games of the new campaign.
Having started the season with two successive victories in the Premier League, Arsenal’s manager rang the changes for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup success at Leicester City - yet Ozil once again was left out.
When quizzed on the 31-year-old’s absence following the 2-0 win, Arteta said: “The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving. This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better.
“You can see that the players we are changing, we are using, it's very difficult every week not just for Mesut but for some other players as well to make the squad. Every week we try to pick the right players.
“It's difficult for others as well that aren't involved in the Premier League and didn't play tonight either. We have a squad of 26, 27 players at the moment and we can't give playing time to all of them.
“I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”
Another player who did not feature in the win against Leicester on Wednesday night was Lucas Torreira. Like Ozil, the Uruguay international has yet to play this season and is believed to be on the verge of leaving the club, with both Atletico Madrid and Torino interested in signing him.
There have been suggestions that a loan deal with Atletico is close to being agreed, one that would include an option to buy at the end of the season. Arteta was insistent, however, that Torreira was not left in London due to any ongoing transfer talks.
“I’m not making decisions because players might leave or stay,” said the Gunners boss. “It's just for the players that we see every day in the best possible condition to compete and win football matches.”
When asked whether Torreira was close to moving to Spain, Arteta added: “I cannot discuss any internal matters.”