The former Gunners boss couldn’t find the right blend in his side in his final days at the Emirates, a task that has been troublesome in recent years
Unai Emery says he wanted Mesut Ozil to play alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Arsenal, but he had to prioritise finding the right balance for his team.
The Germany international looked a forgotten man at times during Emery’s tenure, but has been reintroduced in recent weeks under Freddie Ljungberg and Mikel Arteta.
The inability to find the right blend from the Gunners’ roster of attacking talents was a source of frustration for Arsenal fans under Emery, but he believes he did what he could to make it work.
“There are games in which you see Mesut’s brilliance, linking with the attack,” he told BBC Sport.
“But also I had to find players around him in which he felt comfortable.
“Also, the team needed to feel solid and you have to, bit by bit, build a team that is aggressive, intense, as well as structured for good pressure.
“We also have to find a space for Mesut so he gives us an important part of the game which is his brilliant talent. To do so, I have to find the right connections between players, the right tactics.
“I was very motivated to try to find that. I wanted Lacazette, Aubameyang and Mesut to work together, each one of them with their own characteristics. But there were times when I had to leave one of them out of the XI.”
Emery also pointed to the impact of former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, whose more energetic displays he felt were better suited to his pressing game.
The Wales international left at the end of the 2018-19 season, joining Serie A champions Juventus on a free transfer.
“We had Mesut or Ramsey playing. Ramsey was very capable of applying the pressure we demanded,” Emery added.
“With Mesut there was less pressure but we had more capacity of having the ball and his brilliant combinations with the ball.
“I used to play tactically depending on the characteristics of our players. If the pressure was higher or not so high, aggressive or less aggressive.
“You try to find a team that is competitive and I found it last season, but sometimes, for one reason or another, for instance, the injury of Lacazette, or Mesut being out for almost a month with the problems he had with the recent attempted robbery he was less available.
“There was a time when I couldn’t use the three of them. The capacity to try to find how to put together the three different qualities of these players was a tactical motivation for me.
“Ozil is a very important player if you can find a way to make it work with other players.
“He has the talent that allows other players to be better, but when you want more aggressive pressure, he does not have the best qualities for that.”