'Ozil is important for us' - Emery responds to Arsenal scapegoat claim

Mesut Ozil Arsenal 2019-20Getty

Unai Emery insists Mesut Ozil remains an important player for Arsenal after the German complained that he has been made to feel like a scapegoat at the Emirates.

Ozil has made just two appearances so far this season, with his only minutes in the Premier League coming during the 2-2 draw at Watford last month.

The 31-year-old hasn’t even made the squad for the past three league games, despite being fit, with Emery stating that others were more deserving of an opportunity to impress.

That has led to suggestions that Ozil - the highest paid player at Arsenal - could leave in January, but the former Real Madrid man has responded by saying he wants to remain in north London until at least the end of his contract in 2021.

Speaking to the Athletic, the playmaker also took aim at his critics and how he is portrayed.

“If we don't do well in a big game, it's always my fault,” he said. “If that's true, how do you explain our results in the big games when I wasn't involved? There's no real difference. 

“I know people expect me to offer more, dictate play and make the difference — I do, too — but it's not that straightforward.

Mesut Ozil Arsenal 2019-20

“I’m not the only player in the team and, don't forget, some of our opponents are simply better than us.”

The view that Ozil is often unfairly targeted is one that is shared by many supporters, with Emery himself being criticised by sections of the Arsenal fanbase for the way he appears to have frozen the player out in recent weeks.

But ahead of Monday’s trip to Sheffield United, the Spaniard is adamant that Ozil remains in his plans.

"We are in our way and we live in the present,” said Emery, when asked if Ozil's assessment that he is often the scapegoat was fair. “In this present we are looking for the best way to be competitive, to play each match with our best quality and best mentality.

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"Mesut Ozil, for us, is important. Sometimes one player could be important playing or could be important being on the bench or could be important preparing for the next match.

"This is our mentality and this is the way we want to create with 25 players in the squad.

“Mesut Ozil is in the same way and I told you now for the last three weeks he is working and improving and being better in the training. If we need him we are going use him.”