Emery also says he wanted to sign Wilfried Zaha instead of Nicolas Pepe last summer
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 16/05/20 10:18am
Unai Emery has criticised Mesut Ozil’s “attitude and commitment” during his time as Arsenal head coach and says the rest of the squad did not want the German to be captain.
Emery was sacked in November after the club suffered their worst run of form since 1992 and was initially replaced with Freddie Ljungberg before Mikel Arteta was handed the job permanently.
Ozil was rarely trusted as a regular starter during Emery’s reign and made just one Premier League appearance in the first 10 games of the season, but his former boss insists he tried his best to help him.
“I spoke a lot with Ozil,” Emery told The Guardian. “He has to be self‑critical too, analyse his attitude and commitment.
“I tried with all my might to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have reached their best level with me. I was always positive, wanting him to play, be involved.
“In pre-season I told him I wanted to help recover the best Ozil. I wanted a high level of participation and commitment in the dressing room. I respected him and thought he could help.
“He could have been a captain but the dressing room didn’t want him to be. That’s not what I decided; that’s what the players decided. Captains are ones who have to keep defending the club, the coach, team-mates.”
Emery: I wanted Zaha over Pepe
Emery also revealed that he urged the Arsenal board to sign Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha over Nicolas Pepe last summer.
Arsenal failed in their bid to sign Zaha after Palace turned down a £40m bid and refused to lower their £80m asking price. The Gunners then opted for Pepe, who joined from French club Lille for a fee of £72m.
“I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want.’ I met Zaha and he wanted to come,” Emery said. “The club decided Pepe was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games.’ He beat us on his own.
“It’s also true he was expensive and Palace didn’t want to sell. There were a series of decisions that had repercussions.”
Shkodran Mustafi says Mikel Arteta has all members of the Arsenal squad “on board” and believes the club is destined for greatness under the guidance of their former player.
The Germany defender has been reflecting on what impact Arteta has made at the club since joining in December.
“He’s a little like a professor,” Mustafi tells Sky Sports News.
“He knows exactly where he wants the players to be when on the ball and how to react when losing the ball. It’s very special.
“When I pass I am usually only focused on where to be if we lose the ball but he wants me to contribute offensively too. So we constantly need to make an option for the player on the ball.
“When you are 28 and you play in different countries with other coaches you think you know everything but then he came in and there are things I’ve never known before.”