Emery un­der pres­sure over sick Ozil

Ger­man would have been dropped if he had been fit Ram­sey helps Ar­se­nal beat West Ham on his re­turn

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Matt Law at the Emi­rates Sta­dium

Unai Emery is fac­ing the first big test of his Ar­se­nal ca­reer af­ter be­ing forced to deny a train­ing-ground row with topearner Me­sut Ozil ahead of yes­ter­day’s vic­tory over West Ham United.

Ozil was not part of Emery’s squad to face West Ham, and a re­port emerged dur­ing the game that the Ger­man had ar­gued with the head coach in train­ing.

Emery claimed that no ar­gu­ment took place and that Ozil was ab­sent from his squad be­cause of a cold. But sources main­tained that the for­mer Real Madrid player had last week been told he must work harder and that his place was in jeop­ardy.

Ozil was al­lowed to re­turn home on Fri­day af­ter in­form­ing Emery that he did not feel well, although Emery also re­vealed that the 29-year-old was with him and the rest of the Ar­se­nal squad ahead of kick-off yes­ter­day.

Emery is un­der­stood to have been ready to drop Ozil, whether or not he was un­well, af­ter sub­sti­tut­ing him in the de­feat by Chelsea last week­end and it re­mains to be seen whether he can win his place back.

Ar­se­nal handed the player a new £350,000-a-week con­tract, which runs un­til 2021, only in Jan­uary but Emery does not seem afraid to put him on the sub­sti­tutes’ bench.

Asked whether Ozil was dropped as a re­sult of a row, Emery replied: “It isn’t true, that in­for­ma­tion. I don’t know who started it. If you ask me, the doc­tor or the club. He spoke with me and de­cided not to play to­day. He left train­ing be­cause he was go­ing home. He was sick; blocked up with a cold.

“To­day he was here. I said come if you feel bet­ter and he felt bet­ter to­day. Be­fore the match, he was with the team and with me speak­ing. No prob­lem with the player. Ask the doc­tor, he can ex­plain bet­ter.”

Aaron Ram­sey re­placed Ozil and Emery made a point of prais­ing the Welsh­man’s work-rate by say­ing: “He worked for 90 min­utes. His spirit and ex­pe­ri­ence is very im­por­tant. He is a player the other play­ers can give the ball to in dif­fi­cult po­si­tions be­cause he plays with a very high per­son­al­ity.”

Goals from Na­cho Mon­real and sub­sti­tute Danny Wel­beck, as well as an own goal from West Ham debu­tant Issa Diop, se­cured Emery’s first vic­tory since suc­ceed­ing Arsene Wenger.

“We needed to win and give the sup­port­ers three points,” said Emery. “But we need to im­prove.”

Me­sut Ozil may have been com­plain­ing of an at­tack of the snif­fles, but Ar­se­nal were not caught cold without their high­est earner as the Unai Emery era fi­nally got up and run­ning.

Ar­se­nal are still a work in progress, par­tic­u­larly in de­fence, but they showed spirit and char­ac­ter, qual­i­ties Ozil is of­ten ac­cused of lack­ing, to come back from be­hind and beat West Ham United.

Head coach Emery has al­ready proved he is not a man to com­pro­mise on his be­liefs. He wants his team to pass out from the back, take risks and press high. He also wants to­tal com­mit­ment. Play­ers will be picked on their per­for­mances, not on their names or their pay pack­ets.

Whether or not Ozil is up for the fight re­mains to be seen, but the play­ers who started against West Ham, in­clud­ing the Ger­man’s re­place­ment, Aaron Ram­sey, proved they are.

They could have folded when they went be­hind to Marko Ar­nau­tovic’s opener and could eas­ily have gone into hid­ing as they stared a third suc­ces­sive de­feat in the face. But they re­grouped and bring­ing in Ram­sey for Ozil was not the only change Emery got right.

His de­ci­sion to send on Alexan­dre La­cazette and play the sec­ond half with two strik­ers was a risk that paid off. It was La­cazette who forced West Ham debu­tant Issa Diop to put the ball into his own net and an­other sub­sti­tute, Danny Wel­beck, scored Ar­se­nal’s third.

“The first XI are very im­por­tant, but the play­ers on the bench as well, the level of com­mit­ment,” said Emery. “They can play five min­utes, 10 min­utes, half an hour, 45 min­utes, but we need them. To­day, all three sub­sti­tutes, not just Laca, made the dif­fer­ence and helped the team.”

Ram­sey had a header ruled out for off­side in the 11th minute, but, fol­low­ing a bright start by the hosts, West Ham took a de­served lead. Felipe An­der­son had been moved into a role be­hind lone striker Ar­nau­tovic, who cap­tained the Ham­mers in the ab­sence of Mark No­ble, and it was the Brazil­ian who set up the open­ing goal.

By run­ning with the ball and ex­chang­ing a cou­ple of passes with Ar­nau­tovic, An­der­son pulled Shko­dran Mustafi out of po­si­tion, be­fore the for­mer Stoke City for­ward un­leashed a shot past Petr Cech. It meant Ar­nau­tovic has been in­volved in 14 Premier League goals in 2018, a record only bet­tered by Mo­hamed Salah so far. When he was forced off with an in­jury in the sec­ond half, West Ham lost their for­ward im­pe­tus.

Emery needed his team to re­spond quickly and they did, as Na­cho Mon­real was at the back post five min­utes later to con­trol a Hec­tor Bel­lerin pass and smash the ball into the net.

That should have given Ar­se­nal mo­men­tum, but it was West Ham who fin­ished the half bet­ter. Cech first saved from Michail An­to­nio, then Robert Sn­od­grass should have scored af­ter he was found free in the penalty area.

Emery’s pre­de­ces­sor, Arsene Wenger, was of­ten crit­i­cised for be­ing too slow to change play­ers or tac­tics to re­spond to the op­po­si­tion, but the Spa­niard showed he will not hang around.

La­cazette re­placed Alex Iwobi for the start of the sec­ond half, and Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang moved out to the left as Emery at­tempted to send the Gun­ners out on the front foot.

The change al­most paid im­me­di­ate div­i­dends, as La­cazette pro­duced a cross from which Mustafi nearly scored. For­mer Ar­se­nal goal­keeper Lukasz

‘The first XI are very im­por­tant, but the play­ers on the bench as well, the level of com­mit­ment’

Fabi­an­ski did bril­liantly to tip the de­fender’s header wide.

Fabi­anksi then pro­duced a good save to deny La­cazette and Mon­real mis­kicked his at­tempted fol­low up, be­fore Ar­nau­tovic was forced off and West Ham lost their main at­tack­ing threat. Eleven min­utes later, Ar­se­nal took the lead in slightly for­tu­itous cir­cum­stances. Diop, a £22 mil­lion sign­ing from Toulouse, made a ter­ri­ble at­tempt to clear, send­ing the ball straight into the air. It even­tu­ally dropped for La­cazette who sent it back into the area on the turn. Diop watched in de­spair as it bounced off him and past Fabi­anksi.

Aubameyang could have eased Ar­se­nal’s nerves by quickly adding a third, but his re­place­ment, Wel­beck, made sure West Ham re­main point­less by scor­ing from Bel­lerin’s cross in time added on for stop­pages.

“I’m not happy with the re­sult, but I am very happy with the per­for­mance of the team,” said West Ham man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini. “I de­mand we play as a big team, and I think that was the per­for­mance of the big team.

“We were un­lucky to con­cede the own goal, and I think we cre­ated dou­ble the chances of Ar­se­nal. We still don’t have any points, but we have im­proved with ev­ery game.”

On the sub­sti­tu­tion and pos­si­ble in­jury to Ar­naoutovic, Pel­le­grini added: “He had a pain on the back of his knee, but we will see.”

Ill health: Me­sut Ozil was not in the Ar­se­nal squad yes­ter­day af­ter miss­ing train­ing on Fri­day due to sick­ness

Ul­ti­mate im­pact: Danny Wel­beck scores Ar­se­nal’s third goal in stop­page time to seal vic­tory over West Ham af­ter com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute

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