Arsenal's Mesut Ozil on board with switching between positions - Unai Emery
LONDON -- Arsenal coach Unai Emery has told Mesut Ozil he will have to play out of position at times to help the team -- and insisted that the German is happy with that.
Emery said on Friday he plans to continue switching Ozil between playing in his favoured role as a central No. 10 and as a right-winger depending on the formation he uses.
Their conversation about Ozil's role last week sparked reports of a rift between the two when the German missed Saturday's win over West Ham with an illness, but Emery said the midfielder is fully on board with his plans.
"I spoke with him about his best position on the pitch, and I know he can play on the right and as a No. 10 player, and he wants [me] to use him for two positions," Emery said. "Mesut in his career, he played as No. 10 and he played on the right. When he played in Spain [for Real Madrid], I remember a lot of matches with him playing on the right. His quality is for playing between the lines of the attacking and midfield players.
"I like the possibility to have the player play in different positions on the pitch. So we are going to continue to do that. After, it's [about] where he is better for us and where he is better also thinking [about] the opposition's style of play."
Emery first used Ozil out wide in a 4-3-3 formation in the opening loss to Manchester City, and then played him as the No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 against Chelsea -- the role he normally had under Arsene Wenger. However, he was taken off midway through the second half of that defeat with Emery saying he wasn't happy with the way Arsenal were pressing without the ball.
Asked if he has demanded more from Ozil when it comes to his defensive work rate, Emery said that doesn't just apply to the German.
"Our demands are very high, very great, but I want to ask every player, every day, to give us more," Emery said. "But not [just] Mesut, it's the team, the squad. We need to push and have the ambition and desire to improve every day. This is my message for the team, for the squad and for every player."
Next week's international break will be the first since Ozil announced he would not play for Germany any more after the World Cup, citing the racist abuse he had received following his photo with Turkey President Recep Ayyip Erdogan and the team's group-stage exit in Russia. Ozil is continuing to face criticism back home over the situation, but Emery said he is hoping to help the midfielder "continue enjoying his job" by shutting that out.
And he said Ozil won't be given any special treatment during the break.
"He'll have two or three days holidays like other players, but then next week when we are here working, he's going to work with us and the other players," Emery said. "It's different for him, but he made the decision and we respect it, and we want to help him to stay with us in the best possible way."