Unai Emery has insisted the decision to substitute Mesut Ozil during Wednesday night's Carabao Cup clash with Liverpool was a pre-meditated one that he had discussed with the player prior to kick-off.
The German was Arsenal's best player during the barnstorming 5-5 draw with the Reds in the Carabao Cup at Anfield, a game the hosts ultimately ran out 5-4 winners on penalties.
This was just Ozil's third appearance in all competitions this season having being frozen out by the Gunners' boss, who has made it painstakingly clear he doesn't see the playmaker as part of his future plans.
Upon deciding to substitute Ozil, there were some audible boos from sections of the away end, with Arsenal fans unhappy to see the 31-year-old hauled off for Matteo Guendouzi despite playing well in the number ten role. Speaking on the club's official website, Emery insisted this was a precautionary measure, given the lack of minutes he's had this campaign.
"We spoke before the match, and we made the decision in the second half to take him off because he hasn’t played for a little while and we want to keep his fitness as he was very tired but for him it was great to play 60/65 minutes," he said.
"We decided before the game to only play him for that amount of time. I think in that moment it is good to make that decision as we were calm and he did the work very well and we decided it was better to rest him."
Ozil provided an assist on the night, but it was his all-round display that impressed Emery, who confessed he may be in line for a recall to the Arsenal squad for Saturday's Premier League clash with Wolves after his successful outing at Anfield.
"I think he played very well. Tonight, you’ve seen he is a skilful player in the team and he was very positive every time and I think he played a very good match," he added.
Source : 90min