After Friday’s Arsenal u23 clash, it’s clear one of the two squad outcasts has accepted the club’s offer to play for the academy side.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on September 08, 2020 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on September 08, 2020. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Sokratis Papastathopoulos made a start for the Arsenal u23s on Friday, facing Everton at the Emirates Stadium in the 13:00 kick-off. He played just over 70 minutes and the Gunners didn’t concede a goal with him on the pitch.

Football.London’s Chris Wheatley had previously reported that both Sokratis and Mesut Özil were offered the chance to play for the academy to maintain their fitness. Sokratis accepted the offer, ahead of a potential January move away from the club.

At the time of Wheatley’s report in October, he wrote: “Özil himself will be given the opportunity to maintain his fitness for the Arsenal Under-23s, although it’s not known at this stage whether he’ll take up the chance to play in any of those games in November.”

Given Özil’s absence from the matchday squad on Friday, it seems he’s not taking up the chance. This was a rare youth game at the Emirates, so if he’s not involved in this one, I wouldn’t expect to see him at Meadow Park either.

In fairness, Sokratis and Özil are in different situations. Sokratis is pushing for a January move, as mentioned, so he’ll want to prove his fitness. Özil hasn’t shown any desire for a transfer, so he probably views the u23 offer more as degrading than useful.

It’s nice to have Sokratis available for the academy side, though. He can help the other young defenders to learn and develop with his experience, and ideally, it will get him the move he wants in the winter window.

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