Mesut Ozil was not on the list of potential Arsenal penalty takers for the FA Cup final, Arsene Wenger has confirmed. The Germany international was taken off during the second period of extra time at Wembley, with Jack Wilshere coming on as a replacement.
Ozil was substituted at the same time as Santi Cazorla and, with penalties a real prospect at that point, there were eyebrows raised that Wenger chose to remove two of his set-piece specialists.
Wenger concedes that his move represented something of a gamble but, of course, it paid off with Wilshere having played a role in the winning goal scored by Aaron Ramsey with 11 minutes remaining. But, adds the Arsenal manager, while Cazorla would have been used should the game have reached a shootout, Ozil would have been left out.
“Especially [taking off] Cazorla [was bold]. I must tell you Ozil I would not have put him on the penalty list, but Cazorla is a serious penalty taker and that’s why I was hesitant,” Wenger told the official Arsenal website.
“I was worried by the decision I was making because I had two strikers on the pitch. Jack is not a penalty taker, Rosicky is not a penalty taker. Giroud had cramp so it was difficult.”
Ozil, a club record acquisition when he signed from Real Madrid for £42 million last summer, had previously taken two penalties for Arsenal this season - both of which he missed. The first was in the victory against Napoli at the Emirates Stadium, while the second would have given Arsenal the lead in the Champions League first leg loss to Bayern Munich.