Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are currently evolving without Mesut Ozil, and that other players are being selected ahead of him because they are simply in better condition.
The Gunners have played two Premier League matches so far as well as one League Cup fixture which took place on Wednesday as they defeated Leicester 2-0 away from home.
Ozil has not even made the squad for each of these three matches, despite no confirmed injuries.
Even after football returned after lockdown in June, he failed to register a single minute in an Arsenal shirt.
When asked about Ozil's omission from the squad against Leicester, Arteta said they team is "evolving" without him.
“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," the Spaniard told the media after the Leicester win.
“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.”
Ozil is one of the highest earners at the Emirates, on a reported £350k a week and he has previously stated his desire to remain at Arsenal and fight for his place.