After Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester City in the Carabao Cup last night, there was a lot of focus in the post-match press conference about the continued absence of Mesut Ozil.
Mikel Arteta at first tried to play it down, but repeated questions led to him addressing issue. Here’s how it happened in question and answer format – questioners are in different colours to illustrate it was more than one reporter.
Can I ask about Mesut Ozil? I know this is a topic you’re probably getting quite tired of discussing but once more he was not in the match-day squad. What does he have to prove to you to get back into contention?
I am really happy with the performance of the players here, how difficult they are making things for the coaching staff to select the squad.
Just again on Mesut, I know you don’t like answering questions, but as a player who started every Premier League game under you before lockdown but since then hasn’t kicked a ball for the club, just what has changed?
The team is evolving and you can see the level they are achieving, so this is where we are at at the moment. We want to evolve more, play better and compete better, so we need to keep maintaining that trend.
You just believe other players are better suited to the way you’re playing?
Well, we are picking the players that we believe are the best for each game and as you can see, we keep changing, so this is what we are trying to do.
Sorry to go back to Mesut again, but you said the team’s evolving, do you mean the team is evolving in a way which doesn’t include Mesut? That you’re moving away from that era?
You can see that the players that we are changing and using every week, that it is very difficult – not just for Mesut but the rest of the players – for some to make the squad. Every week, we try to pick the right players.
I understand that, but there were loads of changes today, it’s a Carabao Cup game. If Mesut’s not going to be involved in this one then it’s tough to see him being involved again for the final year of his contract, isn’t it?
It is difficult for others as well who weren’t involved in the Premier League and they didn’t play tonight either. We have a squad of 26, 27 players at the moment and we cannot give all of them playing time.
Can you understand why every time he’s not in the squad, fans are so confused by situation … can you understand that?
Of course I understand, I respect your questions guys but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible and pick the players that, in my opinion, are in a better condition to play.
Ozil wasn’t the only absentee last night, with no room for either Matteo Guendouzi or Lucas Torreira, but as the club’s highest paid player and still a big star, his situation is the one which is always going to be in focus.