Oezil’s substitution a tactical decision, says Emery
Mesut Oezil was subbed off at half-time as Arsenal's top-four bid suffered a setback after Juergen Locadia's equaliser gave Brighton & Hove Albion a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Unai Emery's side had taken an early lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's fine first-half strike.
But Locadia levelled for Brighton before half-time and the Gunners couldn't find a winner after the interval.
Arsenal have won only once in their last four games in all competitions, a frustrating sequence that started when their 22-match unbeaten run ended at Southampton on Dec 16.
The sole win in their last four matches came against Burnley last Saturday, with Oezil playing a starring role.
However, yesterday, the German's frustrating season continued as he was replaced at the interval by Alex Iwobi.
Explaining the decision, Emery said: "It was tactical...
"We thought we needed some time tactically to do more with more balance so this is the reason...
"I'm a little disappointed.
"I think the first half was key in the match. We started winning and had another two chances, but they equalised.
"In the second half, we couldn't impose our game plan.
"We didn't make more clear chances to win the match."
Emery's frustrations were evident during the match, as he kicked a water bottle in the direction of fans towards the end of the game. He later apologised for his actions.
Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan, meanwhile, felt his side exposed the Gunners' frailties.
He told Sky Sports: "I felt like they were there for the taking today and when we put them under pressure, in the right moments, there were a few frailties in their style of play.
"It's two points dropped, that's the feeling I have."