Mikel Arteta Explains Frequent Omissions of Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi

Ozil and Guendouzi in Arsenal training
Ozil and Guendouzi in Arsenal training | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has said that the continued omission of troublesome duo Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil is down to 'purely football reasons', insisting he would never let a player's off-field antics impact the team he puts out.

Ozil has come under serious criticism for his work rate and fitness in recent seasons, and he has not featured since the Gunners returned from lockdown. Guendouzi, meanwhile, has been left out of every squad since Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Brighton, when his antagonistic antics drew the ire of several home players.

Arteta's team take on Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday and speaking ahead of the game, the Spaniard – who will take on his former team for a third time since heading to north London – says that any decisions made with regards to his starting lineup have been defined purely by football.

"Pure football reasons. My decision is always that," he said, as quoted by Arsenal.com. "My only ambition is to put out the best squad, the best players that give us the best balance - in and out of the field - and the best possible chance to win the game."

Arteta did confirm that Ozil is 'in training', and didn't rule out the possibility of him featuring at some stage against City.

He then went on to shed some light on the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is yet to agree a new contract, despite his current deal expiring in 2021.

"I've always been very positive about it," he said. "I don't have the key to the future and in football, anything is possible. But I see his reactions, I see how he is training every day. I know that he's happy. I talk to him a lot and if we are able to do it, I think we can do it and we know how important he is for the team."