Arsene Wenger has suffered setbacks on two fronts as Jack Wilshere was called up to the England squad against the Arsenal manager's wishes, and Theo Walcott moved closer to the exit door at Emirates Stadium.
Wilshere has played only three games for Arsenal since returning from 16 months out injured, and Wenger made it clear he was against Roy Hodgson picking him for the friendly with Sweden, but was powerless to stop him.
Walcott's contract talks have not reopened, in spite of four goals in three games for the club, with the player now less than two months from being able to open pre-contract talks with foreign clubs.
The winger, who will be a free agent in June, has told Arsenal that he will not resume talks until he is back in the first team on a regular basis, having been largely ignored by Wenger since rejecting a £75,000-a-week deal to stay.
He started the games against Reading in the League Cup and against Schalke in Germany but was left out of last weekend's trip to Manchester United.
On Wilshere, Wenger said: "I wouldn't like to come out on my feelings on that because at the moment, they are not very positive. I saw it coming. That's all I can say."
When asked whether he would rather Wilshere had not been chosen, Wenger was clear. "Yes. Of course. (But) I have no choice. If they call him up, they call him up. I have good relations with Roy Hodgson. We spoke about the situation, he knows my feelings and I know his feelings."
Wenger was quick to point out that Wilshere's first ankle injury was sustained playing for England.
"First of all, he has not been injured with Arsenal, he has been injured with England," Wenger said, before adding his disdain for the November friendly, months before any competitive game.
"The friendlies in November, you don't know how they can prepare you for a game in February," Wenger said.
Fraser Forster, Celtic's goalkeeping hero from the club's famous 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday night, has also been named in Hodgson's squad for the Sweden game next week.
The signs increasingly point to a summer departure for Walcott, who would interest Manchester City and Chelsea on a free transfer.
While Arsenal have said publicly that the impasse over his contract has nothing to do with him being left out of the team, Walcott has been told otherwise in private.
Should Walcott be left out of the team to play against Fulham tomorrow, then the stand-off between club and player is only likely to deepen. (© Independent News Service)