Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are set to miss the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 clash with BATE Borisov, according to multiple reports.
The two attacking midfielders did not take the trip to Belarus as Ozil apparently still doesn’t feel too good following a bout of illness and Ramsey made a complaint about his knee.
The Gunners certainly boast enough quality to put in a good performance against BATE, with Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan looking likely to start the game, but new signing Denis Suarez might be in with a shout as well. The good news is that central midfielder Granit Xhaka and forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are available, having recovered in time from a groin issue and illness, respectively.
It is to be hoped that in the cases of Ozil and Ramsey, the officially given reasons are the actual ones. There have been reports about certain intermediaries searching for a new club for the German, while the Welsh international has been confirmed as a new Juventus signing from next season on. In such situations, players of many clubs have been known to miss out on games, even important ones, supposedly through injuries but with the real problem lying elsewhere. It would indicate a serious lack of professionalism from the players and even with their futures likely (in Ramsey’s case certainly) to be away from the Emirates, the club, the teammates and the supporters have the right to expect them to give their all for as long as they are here.
There is probably no need to stress the importance of the Europa League for Arsenal, as it offers a way of achieving the goal which, as chairman Sir Chips Keswick said, is of absolute priority – reaching the Champions League for next season.
The Gunners can be backed at 4/9 to come out victorious in Belarus.