Unai Emery has confirmed Mesut Ozil will be rested for Arsenal’s Europa League opener against Frankfurt on Thursday.
Ozil made his first appearance of the season against Watford on Sunday, playing for 71 minutes in the 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road.
How did Ozil get on in his first game of the season? Five things to know…
- Ozil was in and out of the Arsenal team last season.
- Emery claimed the playmaker sometimes struggles with physical away games.
- He made his first appearance of the season in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Watford.
- After being involved in Arsenal’s second goal, he was substituted with 20 minutes to go.
- Emery has confirmed Ozil now needs a rest before Sunday’s meeting with Aston Villa.
The German’s Arsenal future had been questioned last season and in the summer, but Emery has suggested Ozil will be used regularly in the Premier League this term.
For that to happen, though, Ozil may have to be given breaks on Thursday nights as he continues to build fitness for league matches, as Emery explained in his Europa League press conference.
He also confirmed Sokratis will be saved for Sunday’s meeting with Aston Villa.
“We are playing now a lot of matches and I want to use different players,” Emery said. “We can have some rotation in the first XI and the 19 players. Sokratis and Mesut, they rest for this match.
“Yes [Ozil needs to be rested], I prefer after Sunday match to rest, to train, to be ready for [this] Sunday.
Asked if Ozil is likely to play against Villa this weekend, Emery gave a coy response.
“My decision is because he played [against Watford],” he said.
“I am thinking also tomorrow (Thursday), I decided the first XI and after who are the players who can be on the bench for tomorrow and the players who aren’t. That’s Sokratis and Mesut.”
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Does Rob hold the key?
It is no secret that Arsenal’s defence is, to put it nicely, not up to standard.
They failed to keep a single away clean sheet last season – although they have already kept one this season, at Newcastle.
Despite this improvement, there are still a number of concerns for Unai Emery. Arsenal have already faced 96 shots this season in the league, more than anybody else.
Last weekend at Watford, Sokratis and David Luiz were shaky to the say the least and each made mistakes that directly led to goals.
Given their unconvincing start to the season, don’t be surprised to see Rob Holding thrust into the side sooner rather than later.
Holding has been out for 10 months following a knee injury suffered at Old Trafford last season, and he is reportedly ready to pass himself fit for Thursday.
The 23-year-old has already played for the under-23s this season and played a full 90 minutes last week, as well as participating in full training.