Monday, July 24, 2023

Arsenal news: Two key Mikel Arteta decisions explained ahead of Barcelona clash

Why Folarin Balogun didn’t play against Man United

Folarin Balogun was left on the substitute’s bench for Arsenal’s pre-season friendly against Manchester United at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta handed a first start to Declan Rice, the £105 million summer signing from West Ham United, while Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were given the nod up front. A notable absentee was Balogun, who did not play a single minute despite having played 25 minutes of the All-Stars game.

 

“We have some options up front and we wanted to load some players, that’s why some players didn’t have any exposure but they will in the next game,” Arteta said. It looks like Balogun will feature against Barcelona in Los Angeles (Thursday 3:30am BST) when Arsenal return to action against Xavi’s side and play their final game of their pre-season tour.

Arteta reveals Nicolas Pepe plan

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed why he decided not to include Nicolas Pepe in his squad for the club’s pre-season tour of America.

The 28-year-old missed the final part of the campaign through injury, which Arteta has claimed is the reason he isn’t on tour with the rest of his teammates. “At the moment he’s recovering from an injury”, the Spaniard replied when asked about Pepe’s future.

“That’s why he’s not here. He had a spell on loan and we wanted to get more from that loan spell. We’ll have to see when he comes back. Have a chat with him. Understand what he plans are and make a decision.”

Arsenal confident Barcelona friendly will go ahead

Arsenal are still fully confident that their pre-season friendly with Barcelona will take place in LA despite a bout of illness in the Barcelona camp.

La Blaugrana had been due to face Juventus at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday July 22nd, but were forced to cancel the game at short notice. In a statement the Spanish giants confirmed this was because a significant part of of their squad were suffering with viral gastroenteritis.

The Gunners have been in close contact with Barcelona though and are still sure that the game will go ahead. It is due to take place on Saturday July 26th at SoFi Stadium at 19:30 local time.

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