Dubai: better beaches than Burnley

OPINION: Arsenal’s ‘warm weather training’ snaps suggest they’ve put failing to score in Lancashire behind them

Thursday, 3rd February — By Richard Osley

Bernd Leno

IN a restaurant spotlighted by the stars in Dubai, Bernd Leno could be found this week dining with his wife – some good nosh and a bit of traditional plate-smashing for entertainment to boot. His Arsenal teammates had, meanwhile, been putting in some tough hours on the pristine golf courses, the social media receipts revealed.

Gabriel Martinelli was busy, too, telling the world of an “amazing experience” while posting a photo of himself swimming with a dolphin at the five-star Atlantis hotel resort, famously luxurious with its private aquariums and a sandy beach out of bounds to guidebook chancers.

Nobody would expect players who earn more in a week than we do in a decade to be booking into Bob’s Motorway View B’n’B for their home away from home but, come on Gunners, read the room here.

Yes, by all means, drink it all in and do the front crawl with Free Willy, but after failing to score against a terrible Burnley team the week before and while we live through a deflating season back in London, maybe it’s not the best time to be showing off the wetsuit photos.

Of course, Arsenal were out in the UAE for “warm weather training” and there have also been official photos of everybody sweating out training drills in the sun, making sure we know they are prepared for the rest of a season in which the players will be joining a thrilling pursuit of a top-eight finish which threatens to go right down to the wire.

Can they squeak ahead of Brighton and Aston Villa? Let’s watch with uncontrolled suspense and see.

As Mikel Arteta, Edu and co sat on their money during a tumbleweed winter transfer window – at a time when the need for investment seemed glaring to even a passing observer – the holiday album seemed misplaced.

One of Leno’s few contributions to the season so far has been being unable to repel Nottingham Forest in a miserable FA Cup exit, but don’t worry… Dubai has been swell.

Perhaps one or two fans will wonder why their expensive matchday tickets and all the club shop merch and sponsorship deals haven’t gone into recruiting better players.

The confusion over transfer strategy was later compounded with the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a stats-proven goal machine when not “out of favour” with the manager – a sent-to-the-stiffs problem also faced by Mesut Ozil, Matteo Guendouzi and seemingly William Saliba, but never Granit Xhaka. No man is bigger than the club, we are reminded, as the conveyer belt continues to zip blunted talent out of the door.

It might be a more convincing stance if Arsenal invested in replacements for those too rebellious for “the project”, but this January the club was too busy with the dolphins.

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