Having been left out of the squad entirely for weeks, Mesut Ozil returned to the Arsenal team last night at Anfield, and played well.
Despite only playing 65 minutes, he had 44 touches – only Lucas Torreira, and the two centre-halves who both played 90 minutes, had more – and he was involved in the goals, in particular a great assists for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
His withdrawal raised some eyebrows, but afterwards Unai Emery explained his thinking behind it, as well as giving his verdict on the German’s performance.
“I think he played very well,” he said. “Tonight, you’ve seen he is a skilful player in the team and he was very positive every time and I think he played a very good match.
“We spoke before the match, and we made the decision in the second half to take him off because he hasn’t played for a little while and we want to keep his fitness as he was very tired but for him it was great to play 60-65 minutes.
“We decided before the game to only play him for that amount of time. I think in that moment it is good to make that decision as we were calm and he did the work very well and we decided it was better to rest him.”
And the question as to whether he was taken off because he might play on Saturday was raised. On that Emery sounded positive, saying, “Yes he will feature.
“We have a match on Saturday and we will look at the possibility to use him again alongside other players and this is the way sometimes.”
In what the Spaniard called a crazy game, Arsenal twice had a two goal lead, and were seconds away from going through until conceding an injury time equaliser to Divock Origi in the 5-5 draw.
Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties.