Unai Emery refused to be drawn on Mesut Ozil’s future at Arsenal, after insisting he did not select the playmaker against Tottenham for tactical reasons.
Ozil was not involved in Arsenal’s 18-man squad for Wednesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final encounter at Emirates Stadium, where Tottenham won 2-0 thanks to goals from Son Heung-min and Dele Alli. Former Germany international Ozil has found himself on the fringes of Emery’s side at times this term, making 11 Premier League appearances in total, with reports emerging on Wednesday that the midfielder turned down a move to Serie A club Inter last season. But Emery claimed his decision not to include Ozil should not be an indication that Arsenal would be willing to sell the 30-year-old, who signed a contract extension in February. “I am thinking of the match, I am not thinking about another situation,” Emery told a news conference when asked if he would be willing to let Ozil leave in the January transfer window. “It was tactical. I thought the players with us were the best for this match. “Every player is important. One I decided would not play, but it was a tactical decision.” Arsenal could have gone ahead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan early on, but were caught out by Alli’s quick thinking in the 20th minute, with Son the benefactor of the midfielder’s excellent lofted pass. Alli turned scorer with a deft chip just before the hour, although the England midfielder was later hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd. Alexandre Lacazette’s effort against the woodwork was all Arsenal could muster in response, but Emery was not dismayed by the Gunners’ performance, adding that his side are still finding their own style. “I think we worked like we want, like we prepared,” Emery added. “We created chances in the first half to score but our efficiency wasn’t good. “I am happy with the performance, but not the result. We are doing our process, Tottenham are ahead of us in their process. We need to create our identity.” Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, was happy with his side’s response to their 4-2 Premier League defeat at Emirates Stadium on December 2. “My feeling was that the 4-2 in the Premier League looks so bad for us but during the second half at 2-1 we were in control,” Pochettino told a news conference. “I think from some mistakes we conceded and it changed the dynamic. Today was similar. “Both games were very competitive. One was for Arsenal and now this for us. Now we’ll play the semi-final against Chelsea and we’re going to have to play at a high level again.”