Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil’s relationship is under scrutiny again after the Arsenal manager demanded more from the German star at the training ground last week.
Ozil’s place for yesterday’s game against West Ham appeared to be in doubt but the player came into training on Friday reporting that he had a cold with heavy mucous buildup and felt he was unable to play.
Emery advised him to attend the match yesterday only if he felt better — and Ozil was at the 3-1 win over West Ham and was with the team beforehand but played no part in the match squad. Emery has already publicly called on Ozil to offer the team more defensively and substituted him in the 68th minute last Saturday against Chelsea.
On Thursday, sources close to the Arsenal camp say that Emery again told Ozil that his tactical system would require more from Arsenal’s star player.
At that stage, it was unclear whether Ozil would have started against West Ham but ultimately the decision was made when his illness meant he could not play.
Emery, however, claimed that there had been no bust-up or row, saying: ‘It isn’t true. I don’t know who started telling this. He was sick yesterday. He spoke to the doctor and to me. We decided not to play today. But he left the training because he was sick.’
Ozil seems to be the main issue for Emery to resolve in his system of high pressing and the manager has been placed in a difficult situation given the board agreed a new £350,000-a-week contract with the player until 2021.
It means Ozil is tied to the club, with no one likely to match his wages but with doubts as to whether he is suited to Emery’s playing style.