Arsenal boss happy with returning midfielder’s contribution despite seeing his side miss out on a quarter-final berth in the Carabao Cup
Arsenal boss Unai Emery hailed the performance of Mesut Ozil as the Arsenal playmaker returned to action against Liverpool on Wednesday.
The former Germany international was making only his third appearance of the season as the Gunners went out 5-4 on penalties at Anfield against Jurgen Klopp’s side after an amazing 5-5 draw in normal time.
Ozil was given a pre-match pep talk by Emery earlier this week in an effort to get the best out of the misfiring midfielder and was delighted with the response, which included a delightful backheel to set up the fourth goal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The former Real Madrid star was replaced after 65 minutes by Matteo Guendouzi, but Emery revealed that was always the plan in a bid to ease him back into the action.
“Mesut Ozil has been back helping us with his quality and his spirit,” a delighted Emery told Sky Sports.
“It was in the plan to replace him, we had spoken about that before.”
The Gunners were ahead for much of the game before conceding Liverpool’s vital fifth goal to Divock Origi in the fourth minute of added time to force the shootout.
“A crazy match,” admitted Emery. “I am very proud of their work, we had a high rhythm in the first 45 minutes. At the end we were winning until the last action. Penalties are 50/50 and we lost.
“We are sad but our work, we deserve to have more. There are lots of positives to take.
“Defensively, both teams cannot be happy with that. But for the supporters it was an amazing 90 minutes. The result was always changing. It was spectacular.
“We can be proud of our work but not the result,” he added.
Meanwhile Emery revealed that no decision had been taken on when to include Granit Xhaka in the side again.
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Xhaka was taken out of the firing line after storming off the pitch when he was substituted in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
The Switzerland international has come under fire for his foul-mouthed tantrum and the captain’s future at the club has been questioned in some quarters.
“Granit Xhaka? Now I cannot say how we are going to play on Saturday [against Wolves],” said Emery. “We have to take it step by step.”