In Brief

Ozil axed: what’s the truth behind Arsenal star’s omission?

Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are left out of the squad for the Europa League trip to Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Arsenal
  • What: Europa League group F, matchday one 
  • When: Thursday 19 September  
  • Where: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt, Germany 
  • Kick-off time: 5.55pm (BST) 
  • TV channel: live on BT Sport 2 

Has Mesut Ozil been “dropped” or merely “rested”? That’s the question Arsenal fans are asking themselves following Unai Emery’s decision to omit Ozil from tonight’s 19-man squad to face Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.

The Gunners begin their Europa League campaign four days after a shambolic defensive display against Watford that made them the laughing stock of the Premier League. 

There were always going to be ramifications to letting slip a two-goal lead, and Emery appears to have singled out Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. 

It was the Greek defender’s gaffe that gifted a goal to Watford, while Ozil was once more anonymous when the going got tough. 

Resting up?

According to talkSPORT, the duo have been dropped after their “disastrous performances” on Sunday, although Sky Sports prefers the parlance of the acting profession and says they have been merely “rested”.

Fair enough for Sokratis, who up to now hasn’t missed a minute of action this season for Arsenal, but Ozil has managed just 71 minutes of competitive football since August. 

Not tough enough?

Ozil’s exclusion will lead to more speculation about his relationship with Emery with suggestions last season that the Arsenal head coach doesn’t believe he has the mental and physical robustness for certain opponents. 

But according to the Daily Mail, Ozil’s absence from the squad to face Frankfurt could be related to his decision to retire from international football last year. 

Ozil, who has Turkish heritage, quit the German national side in controversial circumstances, accusing the German FA and parts of the media of “racism and disrespect”

He then further strained relations between himself and Germany by asking Turkish president Recep Erdogan to be the best man at his wedding last July.

Mesut Ozil Germany quit

Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

Hostility

The Mail believes that because of his omission from tonight’s squad “Ozil has now been spared a potentially-hostile return to his homeland”, although Emery has denied that’s the reason he’s not travelling to Germany. 

Rather, he told reporters that has juggled his squad with one eye of picking a fresh XI for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa.

Whatever the truth, given how he played against Watford, Arsenal are likely to be better off without Ozil in a side that relies heavily on youthful players like Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe.

The 2020 Uefa Europa League final is scheduled to take place in Gdańsk, Poland

Soren Andersson/AFP/Getty Images

Europa League matchday one: British clubs in action

As well as Arsenal there are four other British teams playing in the Europa League tonight.

Celtic travel to Rennes, Manchester United host FC Astana, Wolves are at home against Sporting Braga and Rangers host Feyenoord.

All Europa League matches are broadcast live on BT Sport

  • Group E: Rennes vs. Celtic (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 3 and BT Sport Ultimate) 
  • Group F: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Arsenal (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 2) 
  • Group G: Rangers vs. Feyenoord (8pm, live on BT Sport 3) 
  • Group K: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sporting Braga (8pm, live on BT Sport ESPN) 
  • Group L: Manchester United vs. FC Astana (8pm, live on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Ultimate)

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