Unai Emery adamant youngsters deserve place in Arsenal squad ahead of Mesut Ozil
Unai Emery saw his Arsenal youngsters dismantle Standard Liege in the Europa League before insisting they were more deserving of a place in his side than outcast Mesut Ozil.
Ozil, the highest-paid player in the history of the club, was again left out of the matchday squad as Gabriel Martinelli hit a brace in a 4-0 Group F victory.
The 18-year-old netted twice in three first-half minutes before setting up Dani Ceballos to score his first goal for the club, with Joe Willock having already added the third.
Emery made 10 alterations from the side that drew at Manchester United on Monday night with Ozil not making the matchday squad on either occasion.
The 30-year-old has had a difficult relationship with Emery since the head coach’s appointment last summer and the Spaniard’s claims that he did not deserve a place in his side on Thursday night is the latest suggestion Ozil could be moved on sooner rather than later.
“I am thinking every time to decide the best players for each match and the best players in the squad to play and to help us,” Emery replied when asked about Ozil’s omission.
“When I decided he shouldn’t be in the squad it’s because I think other players deserved it more.
“He needs to continue working. Tomorrow we have training with the players who didn’t play, and on Sunday we have another match, and we are going to decide the same.
“Our target is to win on Sunday against Bournemouth, and we want to carry on our same way in each match.”
On a positive night for the Gunners, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin – who captained the side – all came through 90 minutes as they continued their comebacks from injury.
Martinelli, who scored two goals on his full debut in the Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest last week, followed it up with another double here and Emery has been impressed by his start to life in England.
“I saw him in pre-season and he was working and in each training showing us his hunger,” added Emery.
“In pre-season he was perfect all the time with us in training, and I spoke to him to be calm because when he arrived with an opportunity to play like tonight, if he continues with this hunger then I think he will do well. Tonight confirmed that.
“The first thing in his mind is to help us and receive some minutes with us in the team. Tonight I think his performance and attitude was amazing.”
Standard Liege head coach Michel Preud’homme had preempted a strong showing from Arsenal’s young talent and was left frustrated by his own side’s performance.
“We showed them too much respect,” he said. “They were quicker than us all over the pitch and we lacked aggression.”