It would appear that Mikel Arteta and Edu have come to the conclusion that buying the Icelandic goalkeeper Alex Runarsson in the summer was a grave mistake, and the Arsenal coach has now taken the decision of leaving him out of the Europa League squad for the knockout stages.
It is quite a blow for the 25 year-old, because the Europa League is usually the competition that gives game time to the backup to Bernd Leno, but now even that chance has been taken away from him.
Full Europa League squad. Only four homegrown players named so senior list is reduced from 25 players to 21. pic.twitter.com/lQCxzvJRNp
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) February 3, 2021
The timing of this announcement could have better as well, considering that Bernd Leno is suspended for this weekend’s game at Aston Villa and our new backup keeper Mat Ryan is struggling with a hip injury. It is still not certain whether Ryan will be fit enough to travel to Villa Park, but if he is unavailable then it seems likely that Alex Runarsson will start in goal with the youngster Artur Okonkwo on the bench.
Okonkwo is only 19 years old but highly regarded, but Arteta also has James Hillson, who is 20 and joined us from Reading 18 months ago.
This omission of Runarsson is hardly going to help his confidence, so could Arteta even be thinking of starting with Okonkwo between the sticks on Saturday?