Emery unable to explain Ozil injury and derby absence

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The German playmaker was unable to play any part in Arsenal's thrilling victory over Tottenham after picking up an untimely pre-game knock

Unai Emery has been unable to explain Mesut Ozil’s absence from Arsenal’s north London derby plans, with the midfielder stunning his club colleagues with “back ache”.

The German playmaker was expected to figure for the Gunners as they welcomed arch-rivals Tottenham to Emirates Stadium.

He was, however, a surprise omission from the matchday squad, with it later emerging that he had picked up an untimely knock.

That news came as a shock to Emery, with the Spaniard admitting that he had no knowledge of the World Cup winner struggling with an injury prior to derby day.

"He has back ache,” the Arsenal boss said when quizzed on why Ozil had missed out.

Pressed on when the problem had been picked up, Emery said: “I don’t know.”

The same answer was then offered when asked if Ozil had been in attendance at the Emirates despite being unable to play.

While the 30-year-old midfielder played no part against Spurs, others stepped up in his absence, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagging a brace as Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira also got in on the act.

The Gunners, who opened the scoring, had been trailing at half-time, with Emery’s decision to introduce Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey proving decisive.

"First was to change something. Because I think we need in this moment something different on the pitch," he said when explaining those calls.

"Aaron knows this derby, and his speed is important for us, and second is Laca, for chances in the second half. He showed us that."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal Tottenham 021218

Eric Dier and Harry Kane had turned a thrilling tie on its head after Aubameyang’s opener from the penalty spot, but Emery saw his players and a loyal fan base pull together to stretch an unbeaten run to 19 games.

He told Sky Sports: "I think our process and today our supporters here, the atmosphere was very good and they push a lot for us. In a difficult first-half moment we keep the calm, and we said in the dressing room that we had good moments in the first half.

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"It's the reason every match is an important three points. For the supporters it is a special match, and for us to also because we want to give them a special match. I think they connected with the supporters today.

"We watched Tottenham last week at home against Chelsea, a very big performance with their supporters. Here we weren't speaking about that, they are different matches.

"We could change the performance for us, in a positive, and break the moment for them. It's not easy, but with our supporters, we can do that."

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