Arsenal’s 23-man squad for the trip to Dubai included three surprises.
Injured trio Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin all made the journey despite being ruled out for the season, and that prompted a huge reaction from supporters on social media .
The Gunners arrived at 8pm local time on Thursday evening and will stay for five full days, with the trip culminating in a game on Tuesday against Al Nasr Club to mark the official opening of their new Al Maktoum Stadium.
Head coach Unai Emery commented on the decision to go abroad amid criticism from some supporters that it could have a negative effect on the players for the remainder of the season.
“It will be great to get some warm weather training and break up the usual routine as we enter the final stage of the season,” he said.
“The facilities in Dubai are fantastic and it will be an honour to be part of the formal opening ceremony for the new stadium.”
With a number of senior players away on international duty, Emery has included several youngsters in his travelling squad, including Charlie Gilmour, Xavier Amaechi, Olayinka Olayinka, Dominic Thompson and Tyreece John-Jules.
There’s also the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny who have made the journey, but there’s one notable absentee from the travelling squad.
Nacho Monreal wasn’t included in the party, but the north London outfit have revealed exactly why this is the case.
“Nacho has not travelled with the squad to Dubai,” a post read via the club’s official Twitter account . “This is as a precaution due to tightness in his calf.”
The Spaniard will hope it’s not a serious injury as he’s had a few setbacks already this season and revealed earlier in the week that he’s feeling good about his fitness and form.
“This season has been a bit different for me because it’s been the first one when I’ve had a few injuries in a row and I’ve missed a lot of games,” he told Arsenal.com .
“I lost my form over the last few months, but now I’m back I’ve started to feel better again. The team is happy and lucky to have two left backs who try to help the team.
“I’m really happy with my past performances, but as I’ve said, I just try to give my best every single day, every single training session and every game. I try to help and I’m happy doing that.”
Arsenal’s travelling squad to Dubai : Cech, Leno, Okonkwo, Bellerin, Mavropanos, Koscielny, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Medley, Osei-Tutu, Pleguezuelo, Holding, Sheaf, Thompson, Olayinka, Gilmour, Suarez, Amaechi, Maitland-Niles, John-Jules, Ozil, Lacazette, Welbeck.