Unai Emery insists he has the backing of the Arsenal hierarchy in his continued stand-off with Mesut Ozil.
The former Germany international has not featured in the last five matchday squads, with head coach Emery offering little explanation as to his surprise decision to ostracise the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
Ozil has posted a number of cryptic social media messages and insisted recently that he wants to stay at the club and will work hard to regain his place.
There has also been a groundswell of support for the 31-year-old from Gunners’ fans who have grown weary with a perceived lack of creativity within the team.
Emery has played five different players in Ozil’s preferred number 10 role over the last two games – a 1-0 loss at Sheffield United and a fortunate 3-2 Europa League victory over Vitoria – while the former Real Madrid man has been sat at home.
But the Spaniard has revealed talks with those high up in the club saw an agreement reached that dropping Ozil was the right move.
“Here, we have one agreed strategy as a club and as a team,” he said, when asked if there was any pressure from above to put Ozil back into the team.
“Because the most important thing is the club, the team and finding a performance. Previously we were all speaking between us to take that decision.
“I know all the supporters want to know something but now is not the moment. I think it is not the moment to speak about him.
“We are going to play on Sunday and in the next matches and we are going to decide, and when we can speak about him something differently we will look.”
One of the five players trialled in the number 10 role was Lucas Torreira, a defensive-minded player who has struggled to hold down a regular place under Emery this season.
Seeing the Uruguay international popping up on the edge of the box raised plenty of eyebrows in the win over Vitoria, but Emery explained that he is keen for Torreira to lead his pressing game.
“I was speaking with him about his best position to help us in our shape,” said the manager.
“It depends on the shape. Last season his best position was playing as a deep midfield two alongside (Granit) Xhaka or Matteo (Guendouzi).
“This year we are playing also sometimes with just one, and he can achieve with his quality to get to the box and get closer to score and is very intelligent about getting space around the box and taking chances.
“Then also, when we prepare the team to do high pressing, for us he is very important because he is very intelligent tactically but he can play in the two positions – the two midfielders, he can play higher for the pressing and to get into the box.
“Sometimes we also use him as a one-man in midfield doing the covering for the two other players ahead.”
It remains to be seen who is named in Emery’s side to face Crystal Palace on Sunday and who is given the task of creating the chances, but it would now be more of a surprise to see Ozil included, in any capacity, rather than his absence from the squad continue.
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