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Emery explains why he benched Aubameyang & Ozil for Tottenham clash

11:38 pm AEDT 2/3/19
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Mesut Ozil Arsenal
Both players have been in fine recent form but neither started when Arsenal faced Spurs at Wembley in the North London Derby

Unai Emery has explained his reasoning for leaving out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil for Arsenal's game against Tottenham on Saturday.

Ozil starred as the Gunners thrashed Southampton 5-1 on Wednesday whilst Aubameyang has been in excellent goalscoring form this season.

Yet the manager benched both players for his team's trip to face Spurs in the North London Derby, opting instead for Alexandre Lacazette up front and Aaron Ramsey in midfield.

It is set to be Ramsey's final derby for the Gunners ahead of his move to Juventus in the summer when his contract expires and he rewarded Emery's decision by scoring the opening goal of the game after 16 minutes. 

Explaining the changes, Emery said: "[We want to] play with fresh players, energy, high energy.

"After our quality can start or be on the bench because in 90 minutes you play small matches.

"We need all the players with big motivation to play. We are in a good way and today is a big challenge."

A win for Arsenal at Wembley will pull them to within a single point of Tottenham, who sit third, but to do so will require a reversal of a recent trend in this future - the Gunners have won only once at Spurs in their last 10 visits. 

A win for Tottenham will bring an end to their recent troubling form.

The club have lost their last two in the league, away at Burnley and Chelsea, to fall out of the title race, and now have just a five-point cushion on Manchester United in fifth in the race for the Champions League.

Tottenham are without Harry Winks for the Arsenal test, but manager Mauricio Pochettino says the midfielder’s injury is not a ‘big issue’.

"We trust our squad and it’s a massive opportunity for Victor Wanyama," the Spurs boss said.

"We are disappointed for Winks but hope for the next few games he will be available. It isn’t a big issue."