Ozil in Arsenal starting XI to face Wolves as Aubameyang named captain


The 31-year-old has been heavily out of favour at the Emirates but impressed for the Gunners in the 5-5 Carabao Cup draw at Liverpool

Mesut Ozil will make just his second Premier League appearance of the season on Saturday, with the former Germany international named in Unai Emery’s starting XI for the home fixture with Wolves.

The 31-year-old has only made the matchday squad for the Gunners three times in the league this season, his only appearance coming in mid-September in the 2-2 draw at Watford.

But, after impressing in the 5-5 Carabao Cup draw at Liverpool on Wednesday evening, Ozil will line up ahead of Dani Ceballos, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in the Arsenal midfield, with captain Granit Xhaka not involved in the squad. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was handed the captain’s armband in his stead.

Ozil and Xhaka have become two symbols of manager Emery’s increasingly troubled stewardship at the Emirates, with the former barely featuring and the latter finding himself in hot water after his furious reaction to supporters booing him off against Crystal Palace last week.

Left-back Sead Kolasinac, a close friend of the German, has admitted Ozil has been unhappy with his squad-soccer professional status at the moment, though he added he has been doing extra training sessions to ensure he stays match fit.

Ozil’s lack of game time has led to suggestions there has been a rift between himself and manager Emery, but the Spanish boss has said all he wants has been for Ozil to get back to his best.

“We need his quality, his skill and his consistency,” Emery said before the Liverpool game.

“We need his positive mentality and then he will help us on the pitch. That’s the next step. I think he’s done the steps before, and now I want the steps like in pre-season and one month ago to help us on the pitch.”

A return to form for Arsenal’s most creative soccer professional would doubtless provide a huge boost to Emery, with his side yet to find their best goalscoring form this season.

Despite the record signing of Nicolas Pepe to play alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang, they have netted an unremarkable 15 goals in ten league games – less than half the tally of champions Manchester City going into this weekend’s fixtures.

Elsewhere, Kieran Tierney starts on the left of the Arsenal defence with Hector Bellerin named as a substitute, with Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka providing attacking options from the bench.

Arsenal XI: Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Sokratis, Tierney; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ceballos; Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

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Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Willock, Martinelli, Saka, Pepe.

Wolves XI: Rui Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Jota.

Subs: Ruddy, Neto, Cutrone, Gibbs-White, Perry, Vinagre, Kilman.


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