Ozil dropped as Arsenal loses; Liverpool leads by 7 points

Arsenal leave highest-paid playmaker at home, then can’t find anyone to spark comeback against Hammers.

Trailing 1-0 in a dreary London derby, what Arsenal manager Unai Emery needed was a creative spark to inspire a comeback at West Ham.

Mesut Ozil, perhaps? The playmaker wasn't in the starting lineup, but he wasn't on the bench either. And he was not injured.

Arsenal's highest-paid player — reputedly earning 350,000 pounds a week — wasn't in Emery's tactical plans so didn't make the trip across London to the Olympic stadium.

"I decided the idea of the players that I think are the best for this match," Emery said. "Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match. We could've won or lost."

But Arsenal lost — for the third time in six English Premier League matches — after Declan Rice's first goal for West Ham three minutes into the second half earned the victory.

"We tried for the reaction after the goal, but could not be efficient to create a goal," Emery said. "We need more, to recover our play."

Recovering league positions is proving harder. Fifth-place Arsenal fell six points behind Chelsea, which extended its grip on the fourth and final Champions League place after laboring to a 2-1 victory over Newcastle.

Wining the Europa League — something Emery achieved three times at Sevilla — might be Arsenal's only route back into the Champions League. In Emery's first season in charge, Arsenal is only two points better off after 22 games than in Arsene Wenger's final campaign.

Without a Premier League title since 2004, Arsenal looks far from being a contender anytime soon.

Liverpool, though, is well placed to end its 29-year league drought. After the leader's unbeaten start was ended by Manchester City and then it was knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool beat Brighton 1-0 thanks to Mohamed Salah.

The African player of the year netted a penalty four minutes into the second half after being brought down by Pascal Gross.

It put Liverpool seven points ahead of City ahead of the champion playing Wolves on Monday.
"It was not the best performance of the season in a few departments but from a maturity point of view, I would say it is the most mature performance in the season," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. "We are not the Harlem Globetrotters. We have to deliver results."
Ozil dropped as Arsenal loses; Liverpool leads by 7 points Ozil dropped as Arsenal loses; Liverpool leads by 7 points Reviewed by SISI JOKE on January 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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