Unai Emery's motive for benching Mesut Ozil v Bournemouth sends a clear message


Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 matches with a 2-1 victory away to Bournemouth on Sunday.

The Gunners scored through a freakish Jefferson Lerma own goal and Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang either side of Joshua King’s 46th-minute strike to clinch three points at the Vitality Stadium.

Despite the result representing his side’s first win in four outings, Unai Emery can only be pleased with moving within one point of the top four.

Perhaps more importantly, though, the Londoners have now won four Premier League fixtures away from the Emirates, equalling their tally for the whole of last season.

It’s clear Emery’s arrival has brought some psychological benefit to the Arsenal dressing room.

Progress on the pitch has been remarkable, especially considering the Spaniard is still fine-tuning his starting line-up.

He elected to trial a 3-4-2-1 formation against the Cherries to deploy Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexi Iwobi behind Aubameyang, leaving only a place on the bench for Mesut Ozil.

Having picked the German to start four consecutive matches, much was made of Emery’s decision despite him passing it off as a minor tweak.

"It’s a small change. The system is not changing our style, but we want to use the space better on the pitch now,” Emery told Sky Sports before kick-off.

However, supported by what the 47-year-old said in the wake of the 2-1 win, the Mirror claims a more ominous motive underpinned Ozil’s absence.

Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League

When asked why the playmaker was benched, he said, per Sky Sports:

“We thought how we can do better in the match, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity.”

As such, the Mirror’s report reads: “Emery is understood to be particularly disappointed with Ozil’s contribution for the draw at Crystal Palace last month and that was the reason behind his absence on Sunday.

“Bournemouth was Arsenal’s first away game since Palace and, sure enough, Ozil was left on the bench and did not even warm up because he knew he was not coming on.

“Emery is demanding of his players and stresses the importance of work rate particularly in away games and his decision to leave out Ozil sends a clear message.”

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League


It certainly reinforces that Emery expects maximum commitment from each and every player in his squad.

Ozil - who was dragged early against Wolves before the international break - is the highest earner at the club by some distance on £350,000-a-week.

As has been the case during most of his Arsenal career, the 30-year-old had better start proving he’s worth that kind of money every time his manager calls upon him.

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