After Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Sp*rs in the Carabao Cup, Unai Emery reaffirmed that his decision not to include Mesut Ozil in the squad was tactical.
However, when asked if the German was a player that he could be tempted to sell when the January transfer window – a very unlikely scenario – he refused to commit to anything other than a change of subject.
“It’s a tactical decision because I thought that the players that were with us today were the best choices for this match,” Emery explained in his post-game press conference.
Asked how his ‘star’ man reacted to being excluded, he went on: “We are thinking of every player.
“We have 24 or 25 players and when they are playing one game and not in another, it’s the decision. Today it was tactical.”
Ozil was awarded a bumper pay-rise in January which took his monthly earnings to around the £350,000 mark; a sum that dwarfs that of every other player in the squad.
Choosing not to use such a high-profile player obviously raises eyebrows and while a back injury has been cited in the past, this ‘tactical’ decision hints clearly at an uneasiness in their relationship.
“My focus now is analysing this match and also Saturday against Burnley is very important,” replied Emery when asked about the possibility of selling Ozil.
“We are going to assess every player, how they are tomorrow in training and for a difficult match against Burnley on Saturday.”
He then went on: “I am thinking about the match on Saturday, and not thinking about another situation.
“Every player is a big player. Every player. I decided not to play him. It’s only a tactical decision.”
Make of that what you will…