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Brendan Rodgers backs Mikel Arteta’s handling of Mesut Ozil at Arsenal

Mesut Ozil
(Image credit: PA)

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Mikel Arteta’s decision to omit Mesut Ozil from his 25-man Premier League squad.

Arteta had no place for the German playmaker in either his domestic roster or his Europa League squad, meaning Ozil will not play for Arsenal until February at the earliest.

The former Real Madrid man has not played for the Gunners since March and is almost certain to leave the club when his contract expires next summer.

And Rodgers, who will lock horns with Arteta’s Arsenal on Sunday, believes the Spaniard made the right call.

“I’d be very much like Mikel,” he said. “Ozil’s a talented player, but it depends on your structure.

“We need every player to contribute to the defensive ­aspect of the game as well as the attacking aspect.

"The team have to operate with one brain. They have to function and work together. There will be teams where there is more freedom, but less structure.

“Ozil’s a wonderful talent and very creative, absolutely. He can make the last pass, but it’s about the team. It’s about ­marrying the individual ­qualities of the player into the team and if you feel that player can’t press the game or doesn’t want to press the game, it has an effect on your attacking structure and your defensive structure.

“If one person doesn’t do their job, then you can suffer. He’s a talent, but, as always with talent, you have to be a working talent.

“I always say to my attacking players, ‘Don’t run ­forward if you can’t run back’.

“You have to be able to do the dirty work. This is the ­highest level of the game and, at that level, you have to be able to do both sides. You think of any top team in the world and you think of some of the attacking players.

“If you look at Bayern ­Munich, the current European champions, and you look at Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, for ­instance, the guys that play down the sides. Look at how hard they work.

“Look at ­Liverpool with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane – the work he puts in. That’s what you have got to do. You can’t carry anyone.

“It’s OK ­having ­talent, but, at the highest level, you have to be working ­talents if you are going to play in the big games for the big teams.”

Arsenal and Leicester are both on nine points ahead of their encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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