Arsenal coach Unai Emery sends message to ‘ill again’ Ozil

By Mirror: Monday, August 27th 2018 at 15:13 GMT +3 | Premier League
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Unai Emery celebrated his first Premier League win as Arsenal manager, but in the bigger picture it's the victory over Mesut Ozil in their initial stand-off that may mean more.

In the build-up to Saturday's 3-1 triumph over West Ham, reports emerged the Gunners' top-earner had gone off in a huff after a Thursday disagreement with the new boss at the training ground.

While the club quickly denied the stories, the message is clear from the Spaniard — despite his continuing issues with the language barrier.

He isn't going to tolerate any nonsense, whether it's from the man he'd hooked with 22 minutes left in last week's loss at Chelsea or any of his other players.

The official reason given for Ozil’s absence against the Hammers was “catarrh”.

Incredibly, this was the NINTH game the German playmaker has missed through illness since the start of last year.

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But on this occasion the devil is in the details of the timing of his condition — as explained by Emery himself an hour or so after the final whistle.

[PHOTO: COURTESY]

“Two days ago, I spoke with him about things tactically for this match and the last match,” the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach said. “And he said to me he was sick two days ago. Yesterday, Friday, after my conversation on Thursday, he continued to stay off sick.

“We spoke with the doctor and decided it was better for him to stay at home. Then if today he was feeling better, he should come.

“So he came today for one hour and stayed for one hour in the dressing room with the players. He was not 100 per cent good, but he stayed with us for a while.”

The club’s player-performance department are so worried about spreading illness around the entire squad that handshakes are banned at the club’s training ground.

Team-mates are expected to fist-bump instead, to reduce the spread of germs.

So why let an ill player come into such close proximity with the rest of the squad?

“It is a good question,” said Emery.

“My English is not good but I prefer that if he feels good, he stays with us here and not at home. Maybe tomorrow if another player is sick also – that is because of me.”

Clearly, Emery is not overly concerned about the consequences of anybody catching Ozil’s particular illness.

However, it was the single word answer to the final question he was asked that said most: When the pair spoke on Thursday, did Emery have in mind a different position for Ozil?

“Maybe,” he smiled.

Left wing, left-back or left out completely, Ozil’s main problem now is that Arsenal did so much better without him.

The same defensive frailties were there — hideously exposed by Marko Arnautovic’s opener in the 26th minute.

But with more energy up front, they quickly equalised thanks to Nacho Monreal, edged in front courtesy of Issa Diop’s unfortunate own goal then rubber-stamped their victory with a goal by substitute Danny Welbeck.

It was important three points but with a Sunday trip to promoted, still-goalless Cardiff on next up, everybody will need to be in the most robust health possible if the momentum is not to be lost.

At least Sokratis, signed for £17.6m from Borussia Dortmund and showing growing signs of adapting to the Premier League, is fit and ready to go.

“Cardiff we have to win; we have to win,” the Greece international centre-back said, smashing his fist into the palm of his hand three times.

“I did not expect the Premier League to be easy but it is still new for me. I need a little bit of time. I am here to help the team in every way and to give everything. For this I came here. I like this team and we want to build something this year.

“But West Ham was like a final. We are a big team and when you start with two defeats, in the third game you have to win for sure. Now we are a little bit more calm.”

 

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