Unai Emery refused to be drawn on whether or not Mesut Ozil could make an impact for Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday after the German’s half-time withdrawal in the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Wednesday.
The decision was described as ‘tactical’ by the Arsenal boss, but the Gunners lacked creativity in the second period, having just one attempt on goal while the home side looked far more likely to score.
It was another instance in which Emery’s reluctance to use Ozil away from home was apparent, and it raises questions about his involvement when Arsenal face the league leaders at the weekend.
“For me, we cannot only speak for one player,” he said when pressed on the 30 year old’s potential influence.
“For me, every player is the same. We can speak also, maybe one player now who didn’t play a lot… Jenkinson. Or Lichtsteiner or Mustafi or Kolasinac or Matteo or Mesut or Aubameyang or Lacazette or Nketiah.
The half-time change at the Amex was also on the agenda, and again Emery made it clear it was, for him at least, a tactical decision and nothing more than that.
“It is one decision tactically, and also the decision is because we have [done] it before because we have a lot of matches away when it tactically changes something, not for the player but for the team,” he said.
“A lot of the matches when we play in the second half, for example Iwobi, it helps us with a different situation tactically and helps us to win the matches.
“In other matches, when we changed for the second half we took the performance to go to win.
“Yesterday, my intention was the same, it is tactically to change one player for another and with our analysis before that in other matches, in the second-half sessions is the reason I do that.
“Sometimes I change Aubameyang, sometimes I change Lacazette and sometimes I change Matteo – it happens to every player and sometimes the result is good and the other times it doesn’t give us the result on the pitch.
“But the decision is only tactical.”
It may well be exactly that, but even so it’s ok to question the tactics when they don’t work, and they definitely didn’t against Brighton.
Let’s hope he gets it right at Anfield.