Arsenal boss Unai Emery praised Mesut Ozil for his display against Liverpool in a Carabao Cup fourth-round clash on Wednesday night.
The Gunners held a 4-2 lead against the Reds at Anfield, but failed to hold onto their two-goal advantage in a thrilling encounter, which eventually ended in a 5-5 draw.
A penalty shootout was needed to determine who would progress to the quarter-finals, which Liverpool edged 5-4 after Dani Ceballos saw his crucial spot-kick saved by Caoimhin Kelleher.
Ozil returned to Emery’s starting line up for only his third appearance of the 2019-20 campaign to date, and produced a superb back-heel to tee up Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Arsenal’s fourth goal on the night.
There has been some suggestion that the German midfielder does not see eye to eye with his manager at Emirates Stadium, leading to talk of a potential transfer away from north London next year.
However, Emery was delighted with Ozil’s “quality and spirit” against Liverpool and explained that his 65th-minute substitution was pre-arranged in order to ease him back into first-team action.
“Mesut Ozil is back helping us with his quality and his spirit,” Emery said in a post-match interview with Sky Sports – as per Goal.
“It was in the plan to replace him, we had spoken about that before.”
The Spanish tactician also confirmed that Ozil will feature for Arsenal when they host Wolves in the Premier League at the weekend.
“We decided before the game to only play him for that amount of time,” Emery told Talk Sport.
“Yes he will feature [vs Wolves]. We have a match on Saturday and we will look at the possibility to use him again alongside other players and this is the way sometimes.”
The Gunners need to beat Wolves on Saturday to close the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Chelsea to one point, with Frank Lampard’s men set to face Watford in the late kick-off.
Ozil proved he still has plenty more to offer Arsenal with his latest performance, and if he can carry that form into their next fixture, his days warming the bench could finally be over.