Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed that the decision to bench Mesut Ozil against Bournemouth was a tactical decision made before the game. The German attacker had been fully rested after the international break but Emery nonetheless decided to drop him to the substitutes’ bench with Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan getting the nod ahead of him.
Speaking after the game, Emery highlighted that the decision was made based on the physicality and strong workrate in the ranks of Bournemouth, he said:“We thought about how we can be better in the match today, with a very demanding match physically with their intensity against us and we decided [to leave Ozil on the bench]. But every player is important. Also today we tried with three centre-backs. It’s another opportunity to improve and find our best performance.”
“Ozil’s exclusion from the starting lineup does not come as a huge surprise“, given Emery’s horses for courses approach since taking charge at the helm but the supporters would nonetheless be disappointed that the attacker could not even feature from the bench. Mkhitaryan, in particular, was hugely disappointing after squandering possession in a number of attack-minded positions and what was more surprising was the fact that the “Spaniard continued to trust“ the 29-year-old ahead of Alex Iwobi for the entirety of the fixture.
Regardless of this, the Gunners managed to end a series of draws with a 2-1 triumph over Bournemouth and this has helped them to close the gap to the top four to just one point after Chelsea’s defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. Emery’s side will now shift their focus towards the Europa League where they are scheduled to face Vorskla on the road. Thereafter, they have the much-awaited north London derby against Spurs where a victory would propel them in to the Champions League positions of the Premier League.