Unai Emery Didn't Use Mesut Ozil vs. Bournemouth as Match Was 'Very Demanding'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Mesut Ozil of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said he did not bring Mesut Ozil off the bench in the Gunners' 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Sunday because the match was "very demanding." 

Despite not being involved in the international break, the German was named on the bench for the trip to the Vitality Stadium and did not feature at any point.

Per the Daily Mail's Kieran Gill, when asked about his decision not to bring on Ozil, Emery said:

"We thought how we can be better in the match, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity.

"But every player is important. We worked today, and it is another possibility to improve or find our best performance in the squad.

"In the beginning of the season we were speaking every day about the need to be competitive. We need to be organised, we need the individual quality to improve our performance.

"It's the same today. It depends. It depends how the match is going, what the result is. I decided for another option. We knew this is a difficult stadium, a difficult team."

Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail felt Emery had taken the right decision to bench Ozil before the game:

Ian Ladyman @Ian_Ladyman_DM

Ozil was really poor in Arsenal's last away game at Palace and was taken off that day. Big call to leave him out today but the correct one I think. Has to realise that one performance a month isn't enough.

The 30-year-old has scored four goals in 12 games in all competitions this season but has produced just one assist.

As Arsenal's highest earner on £300,000 per week, the Gunners would have been expecting more from their biggest star.

On Sunday, Josh King cancelled out Jefferson Lerma's own goal on the stroke of half-time to send the two sides in level at the break. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed the decisive strike in the 67th minute.

Emery brought on Matteo Guendouzi, Aaron Ramsey and Eddie Nketiah in the second half, but all three were introduced after Aubameyang had scored.

Had Arsenal remained level, it's possible he may have turned to Ozil to change the game, though as the Evening Standard's James Olley noted, Emery didn't look as though he was going to use the playmaker before the winner went in:

James Olley @JamesOlley

This isn't a criticism of the player as he's clearly not been told to move but it seems surprising Ozil isn't even warming up here. He's just sat on the bench, snood up, watching this play out. Seems more likely Ramsey will enter the fray first based on current activity.

It perhaps does not reflect well on Ozil that the manager did not appear to trust him in an intense, physical game, but Emery also pointed to the busy period Arsenal are approaching:

"A lot of matches are coming up—Tottenham, Manchester United," he said. "And also we are going to play against teams with the same objectives as us."

After a UEFA Europa League trip to Vorskla Poltava on Thursday, the Gunners kick off December—in which they play nine times—with Premier League clashes against Tottenham Hotspur and United.

Arsenal will play Spurs again on December 19 in the Carabao Cup and also face a trip to Liverpool 10 days later.

Keeping his best players fresh for those crucial games could be a wise move from Emery, and if Ozil does start in them as expected that should put to bed any concerns over an issue between the coach and player.

Arsenal will need him to be at his best to maximise their chances in those matches, though, and they'll want to see performances befitting of his status at the club.