Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has opted to leave Mesut Ozil at home rather than take him as part of his squad for the Europa League opener against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.
Emery insists the 30-year-old needs rest despite playing just 71 minutes of football this season – having not featured until he started Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Watford.
He missed the start of the campaign after the security threat and then through illness.
Ozil retired from international football with Germany last year amid controversy and, on what would have been his first return to play in the country, he would have no doubt been in for a hostile reception from a fervent Frankfurt crowd.
But instead Emery offered up the rather bizarre excuse that Ozil was instead being rested alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos – who has played every minute of the opening five Premier League games of the season.
“We are playing now a lot of matches and I want to use different players and also can have some rotation in the first 11 and in the 19 players in the squad for tomorrow and Sokratis and Mesut they rest this match,” he said.
“I prefer after the Sunday match to rest that match and to train and to be ready for Sunday.
“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday. My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first XI.
“After that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.
“Really the first match he played on Sunday, he played well and was good physically – also giving us his capacity and skills and after his first minutes (of the season) it was good for us.
“Now he is ready to help us, not tomorrow but on Sunday – we are going to play another match and tomorrow we are thinking to do some rotation.”