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Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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It’s the first North London Derby of the Premier League season, as Spurs and Arsenal meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil is out of the 18 for Unai Emery‘s Gunners, while Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino leaves Lucas Moura on the bench.

The two sides will met again in two weeks at the League Cup quarterfinals.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang. Subs: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Ramsey, Lacazette.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (C), Aurier, Foyth, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele, Son, Kane. Subs: Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Rose, Walker-Peters, Winks, Lucas, Llorente.

Arsenal reveal why Mesut Ozil was dropped

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Arsenal left out their highest-paid player and superstar Mesut Ozil for the win at Bournemouth on Sunday and manager Unai Emery has explained why.

Ozil, 30, was left on the bench and didn’t come on as Arsenal won 2-1 in a tight, tense clash down on the South Coast.

Asked if leaving Ozil out of the team was a tactical decision, Emery explained that he was looking for more physicality and intensity from the Gunners.

“We thought about how we could be better with a very demanding match with physicality and intensity and we decided [to not play him],” Emery said. “Also, today we played with three centre-backs, like some moments in the season we will work like this and it’s another possibility for improvement, to find our best performance in the squad.”

Emery appeared to also suggest, when pressed further by reporters for an answer, that he may have a lack of trust in Ozil. 

“In the beginning of the season we were speaking every day, saying ‘we need to be competitive, we need to be organised and we need individual quality to better our performance’, it is the same today,” Emery added. 

Does this decision make sense? Arsenal won at Bournemouth, who had been flying high, to stretch their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions, so you can’t argue with Emery leaving Ozil out. Arsenal seemed better balanced than they have been in a recent run of three-straight draws in the PL against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Wolves.

But it does suggest that the German playmaker is not valued as highly by Emery as he was by the club when he was handed a new $450,000 per week contract back in January. Ozil didn’t warm up during the game and the likes of Aaron Ramsey (who will be free to leave the club in the summer) and youngsters Mateo Guendouzi and Eddie Nketiah came on instead of Ozil.

Emery has hooked Ozil off early in games so far this season and despite his status as one of the biggest superstars in Europe, the playmaker isn’t an automatic selection for Arsenal, especially in this more defensive 3-4-3 system.

That is refreshing from Emery and sends out a clear message to the rest of the squad: pull your weight or you aren’t playing.

Mesut Ozil lauds Arsenal’s ‘sexy football’

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Mesut Ozil and Arsenal put on a “sexy” second half display to beat Leicester City 3-1 on Monday, as the Gunners extended their winning streak to 10 games in all competitions and seven in the Premier League.

Ozil, 30, captained Arsenal and put in a silky display as he scored an equalizer right on half time, then orchestrated a thorough dismantling of Leicester’s defense in the second half.

First, his perfect through ball found Hector Bellerin who crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 2-1, then moments later Ozil’s clever flick sparked a flowing move into life as he then dummied a ball into the box before using the outside of his left foot to audaciously flick it into the path of Aubameyang to wrap up the win.

Arsenal’s playmaker took to social media after the game and gave a pretty accurate assessment of what went on.

“I think we played some sexy football tonight. Proud captain of this team and this club!” Ozil said.

Unai Emery handing Ozil the captains armband seems to be a bit of a masterstroke, with the German star having a tough time off the pitch over the past few months due to his ongoing dispute with the German FA after retiring from the international game following their 2018 World Cup failure.

Ozil had a slow start to the season at Arsenal and was subbed off by Emery regularly but it appears he is know the heartbeat of the Gunners attack once again and he looks hungry to lead the team who are currently on the crest of a wave. Ozil has now scored four times in his last six games for the Gunners and after signing his new contract in the summer the former Real Madrid star looks settled under Emery.

It is still too early in the season to see whether or not Ozil and Arsenal are set to mount a serious title or top four challenge but the early signs under Emery are encouraging.

Yes, defensively they are coughing up plenty of big chances and Leicester could feel aggrieved to not be handed a penalty kick but going forward Arsenal are in fine form and Ozil is the main man behind the “sexy football” which looks sharper, quicker and more dynamic under Emery.

Puel, Schmeichel fume at referee after Leicester loss to Arsenal

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While the world looked on at the performance by Mesut Ozil in awe, Leicester City manager Claude Puel and Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel were left stewing after the match at a first-half decision which they believed changed the game completely.

Had the referee awarded a penalty for a Rob Holding handball in the first half with Leicester City up 1-0, the game would likely have turned out very differently. Holding, already on a yellow card, would have likely been sent off and Leicester City would have a chance from the spot to go up 2-0.

“I think [the first half was] our best half since the beginning of the season,” Puel said after the match. “We deserved to score more goals and make the difference in the first half. I didn’t understand why the referee didn’t whistle for the penalty, because in this moment it was a penalty, it was a second yellow card and so a sending off for the Arsenal player. This situation can change the finality of the game.”

Puel said that once the call was not made, and Arsenal was able to equalize before the break, Leicester City’s level of play dropped enough for the Gunners to pounce.

“I regret a little our beginning of the second half. We lost a lot of balls and we gave them the ball too easily to put us under pressure, but we have had the chances to score and to be leading in the game with the header from Ndidi. A lot of regret in this game because we showed a lot of quality and we were not lucky with the refereeing decision.”

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was in agreement with his manager about the key first-half decision. “We got no help from the official,” Schmeichel said. “I’ve never seen a clearer penalty. It’s tough to take because we were so good in the first half but in the second we’ve got to do a lot better than we did.”

At halftime, the replay showed the ball clearly hitting Holding’s forearm while above his head. However, the NBC studio crew argued that the penalty was not called because Holding’s arm was hit into the ball by the Leicester City attacker who attempted a header, and that although his arm was above his head, it was not in an unnatural position due to the natural human instinct to balance the body while jumping into the air.

Emery still searching for improvement after Arsenal win

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Arsenal won its 10th match in a row across all competitions with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City, with Mesut Ozil playing the starring role.

Still, Unai Emery isn’t fully pleased with the performance.

[ WATCH: Ozil sets up 2 beautiful goals in Arsenal win over Leicester City ]

Arsenal fell behind 1-0 thanks to a Hector Bellerin own-goal, and the Gunners boss is concerned about his assessment of the 90 minute performance. “Different halves, every match is difficult,” Emery said after the match. “First half we didn’t control the match with possession and positioning.”

Ben Chillwell got behind Bellerin and sent in a cross to the middle of the box, to which goalkeeper Bernd Leno reacted, but the cross clipped off Bellerin’s foot and past the wrong-footed goalkeeper. Arsenal responded with a 3-goal wave, as Ozil scored the first and set the next two up in brilliant fashion.

“We are happy because we are progressing. We need to play with organization but also with heart. We are beginning to play with heart. When you continue to improve your demands are very high. We need to control the matches more than we are doing now.”

The win pushed the Gunners to fourth in the Premier League table, above rivals Tottenham on goal differential. Emery said in order to have success long-term and maintain their Champions League positioning, the players need to be flexible.

“First half we didn’t play well but then we played with quality and heart. This feeling together is very good. We need the number 10 position sometimes with Mesut Ozil and sometimes with Aaron Ramsey. We can’t play with both sometimes. Last match was away and we played it with two strikers. Today Mesut was very good but I believe in every player and different positions for the players.”