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Unai Emery Says Mesut Ozil Isn't Needed for Arsenal to Play to Their Best

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2019

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Unai Emery (L) talks with Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Ozil (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 22, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery believes his team doesn't require an in-form Mesut Ozil in it to perform at its best.

The midfielder has endured a challenging campaign, missing out on selection because of injury issues and inconsistency of performance.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League showdown with Chelsea, Emery said the reason Ozil missed out on the recent matches was fitness issues but suggested the German may be involved in the clash at the Emirates Stadium, per The Independent.

Emery also said the Gunners can function at their best without Ozil, that despite the playmaker being the highest-paid player at the football club, per James Benge of Football.London:

"We won with him. We lost with him. We won without him. We lost without him. We have players who can do a good performance also helping us with quality, with a good performance, like him. We need every player. Sometimes we can decide for one for another, with different ways.

"This team can play with Mesut and find this [best] performance and play without Mesut and find the same performance."

Emery spoke more about Ozil's future on the eve of the London derby with the Blues:

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Goal UK @GoalUK

What future does Ozil have at Arsenal? 🤔 https://t.co/0eqk5GP1tw

The Gunners appeared devoid of invention in their previous match, as they were poor throughout in a 1-0 loss to West Ham United. In that encounter, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka lined up in central midfield, with Aaron Ramsey introduced into the game from the bench.

Had Ozil been in the matchday squad, he surely would have been an asset to Arsenal in a game that saw them toil for long spells. But it feels as though the 30-year-old is at a precarious point in his Arsenal career.

Following on from a 22-game unbeaten run, the issues have mounted up for the Gunners in recent weeks, with Ozil's situation one of a number of concerns:

B/R Football @brfootball

—Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat reportedly leaving —No money to spend in January —Mesut Ozil repeatedly left out of the squad —Six points off fourth —Chelsea on Saturday Arsenal are fine 🔥🏠 https://t.co/nLAFbwzaSm

Given the contract the midfielder signed a year ago included a weekly salary of £350,000, there will be plenty scratching their heads at Arsenal regarding the player's marginalisation.

While Ozil doesn't fit into the high-intensity system Emery has sought to instil in north London, he is a gifted footballer and capable of influencing a game with his talent. For the manager to snub him completely is confusing as a result.

Some flak has come Emery's way as such, but former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the Spaniard has a tough job to do:

Jamie Carragher @Carra23

Unai Emery has been left a bit of a shambles at Arsenal. The squad is poor & no money to change it in Jan, Gazidis leaving now Mislintat, Ozil’s wages & Kroenke nowhere to be seen! https://t.co/eTylw3lRXP

The only way Ozil will be able to show he's worthy of a place in the Arsenal team is by getting minutes, but there appears to be major apprehension on the part of the Gunners boss to give him game time, especially in challenging games.

Chelsea will pose a big test for Arsenal on Saturday, and the Gunners need a win to ensure they stay in touch in the race for a top-four spot. If Ozil gets a chance, it's imperative he seizes it.

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