'A demanding match physically' - Emery explains why he dropped Ozil for Bournemouth clashThe ex-Germany international was an unused substitute as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run by winning at Bournemouth.
Unai Emery is still looking for more from Mesut Ozil, but the Arsenal boss says he is “happy” with the contribution of a player who continues to divide opinion.
After just one outing for the Gunners in the 2018-19 campaign, the German playmaker once again saw his mental strength questioned.
A 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on the opening weekend has been followed by a 3-2 derby defeat to Chelsea, with Ozil replaced 68 minutes into that contest when the scores were level.
Emery claims it was a tactical call to remove the 29-year-old and send on Aaron Ramsey, with his performance having offered enough to suggest that consistency can be achieved with more hard work on the training ground.
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The Arsenal boss told reporters when asked if Ozil can be a key part of his plans: “Yes, we need him to help with his quality, and also I want to push him to be competitive every match.
“Today I'm happy with him because he worked. I decided to change because, in the middle, we needed a bit more to push and not let Chelsea progress easily with the ball. We were defending very deep.
“But I'm happy with Mesut. We are going to do with him the same work and helping him, demanding work every day.
“But, at the moment, he is doing that and I'm happy. In the process, I'm sure he is going to do a good game.”
Ozil was not the only midfielder to be taken off during an agonising defeat to local rivals at Stamford Bridge.
Granit Xhaka lasted just 45 minutes, with the Switzerland international hauled off at the interval.
Again, Emery insists that decision was taken with a bigger picture in mind.
Xhaka had not picked up a knock, but he had collected a yellow card and the Gunners were reluctant to take any risks with a player who boasts a chequered history when it comes to untimely dismissals.
Emery added: “It was a tactical decision because he had the yellow card.
“We don't take risks with this yellow card and, also, to give the chance to another player we have in the match.”
Defeat to Chelsea means Arsenal have now suffered successive setbacks at the start of a campaign for the first time since 1992 – in the first year of Premier League football.
They will get the opportunity to kick-start their season when they welcome West Ham to Emirates Stadium next time out.