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Emery on possible exit for Ozil, reason for his absence

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The strange dynamic between Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil remains intriguing, as Arsenal’s manager has been talking about Ozil’s absence from his recent squads.

Ozil, 30, wasn’t selected in Arsenal’s 18-man squad for their defeat at West Ham last weekend and after that game Emery said it was because others “deserved” to play ahead of the German playmaker.

But with the highest-paid player in Arsenal history now fit after a few injuries, Emery believes he could be in contention to play against Chelsea this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) at the Emirates Stadium.

Is he ready to play in a massive London derby?

“Now? He’s training consistently with his work over the past two weeks and I think he can be,” Emery said. “I like to create the same spirit for all, and that spirit is every players gets and gives consistent work and moments with their performances but it’s not easy. Sometimes you are better and sometimes you are worse. I’m working with every player in the same way. The most important thing for me is how he can help us and how every player can help us with their consistency.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement as to how important Ozil is for Arsenal as they aim to push Chelsea and others all the way to finish in the top four.

Asked if Ozil could leave the Gunners in January due to his lack of game time and the obvious fact that he just doesn’t suit Emery’s high-pressing style of play, the Spanish coach was a little coy.

“I’m not thinking about that [Ozil leaving in January]. I’m thinking about how he can help us this year with good performances,” Emery added. “He’s had injuries and not been okay to play matches, but now after these two weeks maybe this Saturday will be okay for him.”

Ozil’s future at Arsenal seems anything but certain, but if he was to play against Chelsea on Saturday, how would Emery slot him into this team?

He could perhaps play as one of two attacking midfielders just off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as Emery has used a narrow 3-4-2-1 formation at times this season.

Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette could play underneath Aubameyang, but that would be a little harsh on Alex Iwobi who has played well on the left in recent months and it could also upset the balance of Arsenal’s side as one of Ozil or Lacazette would be expected to track back defensively.

It’s easy to see why Emery is having a tough time slotting Ozil into the lineup but given the lack of creativity the Gunners showed in the final third against West Ham, the German could be handed an olive branch by his manager for this huge clash. It is up to Ozil to now take it, and if he doesn’t his time at Arsenal could be all but over.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 22

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The individual spots on the PL club power rankings feel like they are teetering, prepared for some big moves.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

The table says that Arsenal and Spurs are comfortable in their top spots, but the power rankings see a loss to West Ham and injury to Harry Kane as reason for concern.

We are just a result or two from some serious tumult, but here’s where we sit today.


20. Huddersfield Town — Putting aside the idea of a new manager bounce against Manchester City or some other surprising results, the Terriers would need an unbelievable finish to the season to survive the drop; Huddersfield only faces three relegation candidates in the final 16 match days. Climbing out of the Bottom Three would be one of the greatest escapes of all-time.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Losing to Burnley was a killer. But, hey, at least your strikers aren’t fighting during a yoga class. Wait, what’s that? They are?!? Oh.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — Owner Mike Ashley doesn’t look prepared to invest anything ever in January, and Rafa Benitez is heading into a crucial home game against Cardiff City down a number of starters. So this is going well, especially considering Newcastle is hardly even being linked with transfer targets. Even the rumor mongers know better than to expect people to latch onto clickbait when it says Newcastle might buy big. And FWIW: We had Newcastle in our Bottom Three before last week’s results dropped them there on the table.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Cardiff City — The good news for Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds is the three teams below them look quite poor. A win at Newcastle on Saturday would be a huge step to safety.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Crystal Palace — Not quite as maddening as Wolves and Watford, but the team that beat Man City has now drawn Cardiff City 0-0 and lost at home to the Hornets.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

16. Southampton — The Leicester City win is another fine moment for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men, who have been aided just as much by the Bottom Three as their own results.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Burnley — A third-straight league win has Sean Dyche‘s unit on the rise. The fixture list has helped, but the hardened English boss has done a fine job focusing his men on the task at hand.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Bournemouth — Only being stopped by a new season low by the clubs underneath it. Next up for the Cherries: West Ham and Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

12. Everton — Will be relieved to have handled Bournemouth, and will be eyeing a table run with fixtures ahead with Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Wolves, and Watford.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Leicester City — Here’s what I wrote last week, before the Foxes went and lost to Southampton, They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.”
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Flustered Liverpool, and it wouldn’t have been a crime had the Seagulls lifted a point from the leaders.
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

9. Wolves — Losing to Man City is all but certain when you go down a man at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

8. Watford — How many years do you think have been taken off Javi Gracia‘s life by this team’s unpredictable form? Do you think he’s going to have a presidential downtown in looks by the time this is through? After dramatically drawing Newcastle and Bournemouth, the Hornets are back into seventh via a win at Palace.
Last week: 11
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. West Ham United — We cannot overlook recent form and 10 points on the table, but the Irons are looking decent money against any club that dares to overlook them. Just ask Arsenal.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

6. Arsenal — It’s not wild to call Saturday’s match against Chelsea a season-defining one, especially with the Top Four door opened by an injury to Harry Kane at Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Chelsea — Ten points from 12 has rarely looked so meh.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

4. Manchester United — Took three points off Spurs as a team, then perhaps even more thanks to Phil Jones‘ tackle on Harry Kane.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Spurs — Seven is the number. That’s Spurs’ advantage on Chelsea and Arsenal heading into this prolonged Harry Kane absence.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — Could sleepwalk through next four fixtures to get to Chelsea and Arsenal on consecutive match days. And both of those are at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Sadio Mane has joined Dejan Lovren in publicly claiming they’ll win their first top flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

Arsenal to reportedly lose head of recruitment Mislintat

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The man expected to usher in an era of exciting new young talent at Arsenal may be leaving the club after less than 14 months.

Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, 46, has been hailed as the man who discovered Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while at Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

Well-connected reporter Raphael Honigstein says Mislintat is frustrated by a change in recruitment policy since Ivan Gazidis left the Emirates Stadium. Gazidis hired Mislintat to use analytics and stats to find diamonds, whereas new head of football Raul Sanllehi prefers to work his own network for players.

Mislintat is considered the key to bringing in Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as clear connections like former BVB center back Sokratis Papastathopolous.

His departure would be a shot across the bow of an organization which enjoyed stability under Gazidis and Arsene Wenger for years.

Petr Cech to retire at end of season

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Legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech has announced he will retire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

The current Arsenal stopper, 36, is one of the most successful goalkeepers in Premier League history as he has won trophies at Arsenal and Chelsea during his 15-year career in England’s top-flight.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Cech has the most clean sheets in PL history, holds the record for the must shutouts in a single season (24 in 2004-05) and made 494 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions.

He also won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Champions League trophy, a Europa League title and two Community Shields during his 11-year stay at Chelsea. Cech has also won an FA Cup and Community Shield during his four seasons at Arsenal.

Cech is the only goalkeeper in Premier League history to win the PL’s Golden Glove with two different clubs, while he was also the quickest to reach 100 clean sheets (180 games). He is also the most capped player for the Czech Republic national team with 124 outings, a huge chunk of them as captain.

He announced Tuesday that he will call time on his career at the end of the current campaign and posted the following statement.

His status as a legend of the game is secured, even if he has lost his place as a regular starter for Arsenal this season following Bernd Leno‘s arrival in the summer.

Cech arrived at Chelsea in 2004 from French side Rennes and was an immediate star for Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Chelsea.

He has also had some tough times to get through in England, as he fractured his skull in a game against Reading in 2006 and has worn a protective helmet ever since.

Cech also lost his place at Chelsea to Thibaut Courtois in 2014 and then moved to Arsenal in the summer of 2015, even though it became clear he would have rather seen his playing days out at Stamford Bridge.

In his spare time he plays the drums, while he can also speak Czech, English, Spanish, French and German.

It is safe to say Cech is one of the greatest goalkeepers the world has ever seen and we will see him stay in the game in some capacity for many years to come.

Emery confirms Ozil left out, others “deserved” to play

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Unai Emery has confirmed Mesut Ozil was not selected in Arsenal’s 18-man squad for the defeat at West Ham on Saturday because he “had enough players” ahead of the German playmaker and others “deserved” to play ahead of him.

The Gunners lost 1-0 in another blow to their hopes of finishing in the top four, and the sight of their highest-paid player not being in the squad suggests he just isn’t impressing Emery and is not suited to his style of play.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Emery said he felt that his side had enough quality without Ozil to beat West Ham on Saturday.

“We had enough players to win today and impose our gameplan, and impose our tactical quality against them. We also respect them and they have good players. With their supporters here, they feel stronger. Maybe for the bench, some attacking players could have helped. But I think we had enough with these players.”

Pushed further on why he didn’t play Ozil, Emery suggested that the German would not have made a difference even if he had been on the pitch.

“We decided that the players here were the best for this match. We’ve won with him, we’ve lost with him. No one player makes the difference between winning and losing the game,” Emery added.

He then said that Ozil trained normally with the Arsenal squad this week, but then crucially hinted that Ozil didn’t deserve to be in the squad.

“Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match,” Emery added. “We could have won or lost, like we can with him. We continue working with every player because they are all important, but today the decision was to come with these players.”

Ozil hasn’t played since Dec. 26 against Brighton and has made just 16 appearances in all competitions this season, with the German attacker struggling with injuries and just not suiting Emery’s high-pressing, more defensive style of play.

Could a January exit for Ozil be on the cards for Arsenal? There is no way another club would pay his huge wages, but it is not a good look for the Gunners to have their top earner rotting on the bench.

Something has to give and if Arsenal had beat West Ham without Ozil then Emery would have been in the power position. They lost, and played poorly going forward, and now a lot of Arsenal fans will be calling for the mercurial talent to be recalled.

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