Mesut Ozil spent an hour in the Arsenal dressing room ahead of their meeting with West Ham on Saturday despite being unable to play because of illness.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery said he would take full responsibility if any of Ozil‘s team-mates are subsequently taken ill, as he fended off reports of a training-ground row with the club‘s highest earner.

Emery did add to the uncertainty surrounding Ozil‘s absence by hinting he may have been planning to change the playmaker‘s position.

Ozil was substituted after 68 minutes of Arsenal‘s previous game, a 3-2 defeat by Chelsea, and it is understood he has been told he must work harder to keep his place.

Saturday‘s 3-1 win over West Ham was the eighth game Ozil has missed through illness since December 2016. In that time, no other Arsenal player has reported illness more than once.

“Two days ago, I spoke with him about things, tactically, for this match and the last match,” Emery said after his side had picked up their first points of his tenure.


“And he said to me he was sick two days ago. On Friday, after my conversation on Thursday, he continued to stay off sick.

“We spoke with the doctor and decided it was better for him to stay at home.”

Asked if he planned to change Ozil‘s role against West Ham, Emery simply said: “Maybe.”

The Spaniard added that Ozil was “not 100 per cent”, but had recovered enough to join his team-mates at the stadium.

“He came for one hour and stayed for one hour in the dressing room,” Emery said. “He was not 100 per cent good.

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“I prefer that if he feels good, he stays with us here and not at home. And he felt better today [Saturday], so he is with us.

“Maybe tomorrow another player is sick also – that is because of me.”

Ozil was described as being “blocked up with a cold” after the match, when Emery insisted that it “is not true” that the 29-year-old had been dropped because of a training-ground argument.

Emery said before the Chelsea match, he expected Ozil to show defensive “commitment” to the team as it looks to implement a high-pressing style.

Ozil has statistically been slower to adapt to Emery‘s methods. He has made fewer ball recoveries than any of his midfield team-mates and ran fewer kilometres than any midfielder, apart from Alex Iwobi. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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