LONDON — Arsenal coach Unai Emery has said Mesut Ozil will be back in the squad for Saturday’s game against Burnley and still has a future at the club.
Ozil was left out of the team for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarterfinal defeat to Tottenham for what Emery said were “tactical reasons” but the coach is ready to bring the midfielder back ahead of the festive period.
Asked whether Ozil would play against Burnley, Emery told a news conference: “Yeah.
“I want every player with a good mentality for helping us and give us his quality and characteristic, and we need Mesut Ozil.
“I spoke with him regularly in the season, and I am telling him what we need from him.
“He has the commitment to help us, and the quality and characteristic to help us. And tomorrow he is in the [squad of] 18 players.”
Ozil’s absence from Wednesday’s game increased speculation that Arsenal could be prepared to let him go in January.
But asked whether the former Germany international still had a future at the club, Emery said: “Yes. Why not?”
Ozil has only started one game since Nov. 11 — a Europa League match against Qarabag last week.
He was dropped to the bench at Bournemouth on Nov. 25 then missed a couple of weeks with a back problem, and was benched again at Southampton last weekend, before coming on and losing possession which allowed the hosts to score the winner.
Emery said after the Bournemouth game that Ozil was dropped because he expected a very physical game, but has not explained why he felt the team was better off without him against Spurs on Wednesday, a game Arsenal lost 2-0.
But he said Ozil and the other players that are not starting are all aware of what they need to do to win their place in the side back.
“Every player wants to play and be OK to help the team when we need,” Emery said. “The frustration is the same for everybody when they didn’t play in a match.
“I speak with every player. With Mesut, with [Carl] Jenkinson, with Mo, with Petr Cech, with Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang], with every player. Sometimes individually, sometimes with the group.
Emery also said he was surprised by the fan incidents during the Spurs game, when an Arsenal fan hit Dele Alli with a water bottle thrown from the stand. The club are also investigating an alleged incident of anti-Semitism in the crowd.
“It is a little surprise for me, because usually here in England respect is a very important issue for everybody,” Emery said. “But for one person, two people, I think they have a lot of respect, everybody for all. It is not good behaviour, this very individual situation or very individual moment. But I think everybody have respect for all.”
Emery is set to experience the busy holiday fixture period in England for the first time after spending most of his career managing in Spain and France.
He said he is looking forward to the experience, even though that includes putting the team through a training session on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ahead of their Boxing Day game at Brighton.
“We are going to adapt to this Christmas working, because last year I had 10 days for holiday and in Spain it’s seven days usually, but I think the players here have the habit to work and we are going to have Sunday off, then Monday and Tuesday will be preparation for Brighton,” Emery said.
“We are going to travel on Wednesday morning and they can have the day Tuesday with their family for lunch. I think they are very, very responsible players and they are aware that they need to enjoy time with their family, but with the responsibility of playing a lot of matches over Christmas.”