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ARSENAL manager Unai Emery alluded to the dropping Mesut Ozil for Sunday’s match against Southampton, saying that changes will be made depending on players that “give us that intensity.”
Emery’s ongoing battle with the creative fulcrum of the team hinges on Ozil’s workrate off the ball.
On it, there are few better than the German but much of the criticism he has faced while in north London is that he is “lazy” and not willing to do the tough-running that is required of the team’s highest earner.
Ozil’s performance in the club’s 3-0 victory over BATE Borisov on Thursday night only highlighted what a joy he is to watch, even when he is not at his scintillating best — which he didn’t need to be.
But with the race for top-four heating up, and every point being critical from now until the end of the season, Emery can’t afford any passengers, starting with Southampton’s visit on Sunday, and Ozil is the most likely player to be dropped if Emery’s time in charge of Arsenal is anything to go by.
“For us, the Premier League is the first competition,” Emery said.
“We are fighting with Manchester United and Chelsea for the same position and Sunday is a big challenge again.
“We are going to play after three days, then again on Wednesday. We need every player to be focused and help, to give their all in our matches.
“We want to take this intensity every match. We are demanding [a lot from our players] to push, carry on for 90 minutes and give the opposition a hard 90 minutes here.
“Today we did that and in other matches but each match is a new chapter and challenge and Sunday I will change some players if I know they are going to give us that intensity.
“Usually, we have players today who didn’t play but can help us on Sunday.”
The Saints ended Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run just before Christmas and head into this game expecting battle, especially given the sombre mood around Ashburton Grove recently.
Emery called on the supporters, and players, to come together and push the team forward while finding a more consistent style of football at home, given their recent troubles on the road.
“I think we need to create a good atmosphere here, giving them [the fans] our energy, our quality and both is very important.
“Quality, energy, intensity and I want to develop this capacity in our team.
“We are doing this more here than away but consistency is my target with this team.”
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