Unai Emery praised Mesut Ozil for his “spirit” and “quality” after the attacking midfielder starred on his return to the starting lineup for Arsenal against Liverpool.
Ozil has seen little action this season, but was handed a rare start for the Carabao Cup fourth round match, providing an impressive assist for Gabriel Martinelli.
However, his performance wasn’t enough to inspire Arsenal to victory in an extraordinary game that finished 5-5 in normal time – with Liverpool winning the penalty shootout 5-4.
Emery told Sky Sports: “A crazy match. I am very proud of their work, we had a high rhythm in the first 45 minutes. At the end we were winning until the last action. Penalties are 50/50 and we lost.
“We are sad but our work, we deserve to have more. There are lots of positives to take.
“Defensively, both teams cannot be happy with that. But for the supporters it was an amazing 90 minutes. The result was always changing. It was spectacular.
“We can be proud of our work but not the result. Mesut Ozil is back helping us with his quality and his spirit. He played with good spirit, quality.
“It was in the plan to replace him, we had spoken about that before.
“Granit Xhaka? Now I cannot say how we are going to play on Saturday. We have to take it step by step.”
Listen to the latest episode of our new 2000s football podcast, The Broken Metatarsal, featuring Dominic Matteo and comedian Micky P Kerr as we remember Leeds United’s run to the Champions League semi-finals.