By Josh Barker
Published: August 8, 2021 4:25 pm
Last Updated: August 8, 2021 8:28 pm
Tottenham vs Arsenal
Arsenal played out their final pre-season friendly of the summer on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners have endured a fairly underwhelming pre-season overall, losing to Hibernian and Chelsea, either side of drawing with Rangers.
And Sunday’s outing was again not overly positive for Mikel Arteta’s men, who looked rather blunt in attack, eventually culminating in a 1-0 defeat courtesy of Heung-min Son’s effort in the second-half.
Mikel Arteta on Holding & Willock
Prior to kick-off this afternoon, Arsenal would of course release their starting line-up in advance of the action getting underway.
Boss Arteta fielded a fairly strong side, which was to be expected given how close the club’s Premier League opener now is.
However, there were also a couple of noticeable absentees from the Gunners’ matchday squad.
Rob Holding did not make the bench, with Ben White and Pablo Mari instead chosen as the starting centre-back pairing.
Elsewhere, Joe Willock, Willian and Eddie Nketiah also missed out:
📋 Team news…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 8, 2021
Following the game, Mikel Arteta was therefore drawn on the absences of both Willock and Holding.
On the latter, the Spaniard confirmed that the defender was not fit enough to play, a blow for Arsenal, who will kick off their season in less than a week’s time vs Brentford.
On Willock, meanwhile, Arteta remained rather coy, perhaps suggesting that a transfer is on the cards…
“Two different reasons. With Rob he wasn’t fit enough to play and with Joe we will explain the reasons when we can.”
Arteta on Willock:
“Two different reasons. With Rob he wasn’t fit enough to play and with Joe we will explain the reasons when we can.”https://t.co/QGVL2E3P8B
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 8, 2021
Willock has of course been heavily linked with Newcastle this summer, following his successful loan spell up north last season.
Steve Bruce, for his part, confirmed on Saturday that the Magpies are in dialogue with Arsenal over the midfielder:
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on Joe Willock:
“We’re in dialogue with Arsenal, but we have to respect he’s their player. Until we can reach an agreement with Arsenal, and what they want, the rest is immaterial.” #AFC #NUFC pic.twitter.com/PjtpFTR139
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 7, 2021
Willock’s absence on Sunday would therefore appear to suggest that his future lies away from north London, as Arteta would surely have confirmed if the 21-year-old was simply struggling with an injury.
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