Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s relationship with Mesut Ozil is under scrutiny again after the Spaniard appeared to suggest Sunday’s match at Bournemouth was too “demanding” for the German.
Ozil was a substitute for the 2-1 victory at the Vitality Stadium, despite having had a two-week break during the international window and with a Europa League trip to Ukraine coming up where Emery is expected to use a number of his fringe players.
Asked about the decision not to play Ozil, Emery said: “We thought how we can do better in the match, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity.”
He added: “But every player is important. In the beginning of the season we were speaking every day about the need to be competitive.”
Ozil missed the 3-1 win over West Ham in August, when it was reported he and Emery had argued at the training ground.
Emery, however, said that the player had been too ill to train.
The Gunners have extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches, but they had drawn their last three Premier League fixtures before their trip to the south coast, and also drew to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slid in to tuck home and seal the win after Josh King had equalised for Bournemouth following a remarkable Jefferson Lerma own goal.
The much-needed three points puts Arsenal within touching distance of the top four, with a tasty north London derby coming up next weekend against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates.
Emery's men are now just one point behind Chelsea, who suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday to Spurs, and three points behind Mauricio Pochettino's side.
A win next Sunday would see Arsenal draw level on points with their neighbours, but a Spurs victory away from home would extend their gap to six points.