Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Sokratis rested for Eintracht Frankfurt trip, says Unai Emery

Arsenal travel to Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening Europa League game on Thursday

Unai Emery 0:41
Unai Emery says Arsenal will not take Eintracht Frankfurt, last season's Europa League semi-finalists, lightly in their tough opener away on Thursday

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has decided to rest Mesut Ozil and centre-back Sokratis for Thursday's Europa League group stage opener at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first appearance of the season in Sunday's 2-2 draw at Watford, playing 71 minutes, but Emery said the German midfielder would be rested ahead of the weekend's Premier League game against Aston Villa.

"Sokratis and Mesut (are) rested for that match. We're going to play another match on Sunday," Emery said.

"My decision is because he (Ozil) played, I'm thinking (of) tomorrow's first XI and after that deciding who can be the best for tomorrow.

"The first match he played on Sunday he played good with his capacity and skills, his first minutes for us was good. Now he is going to be helping us. Sunday we are going to play another match."

Arsenal were heavily criticised after losing a two-goal lead against bottom-side Watford, with their strategy of playing out from the defence backfiring and allowing the home side to fire a league-record 31 shots on goal.

Granit Xhaka and David Luiz at full-time in the 2-2 draw with Watford
Image: Arsenal allowed Watford 31 shots on goal on Sunday - the highest total since Opta records began in 2003

However, Emery said Arsenal would stick to their guns against Frankfurt and look to improve on Sunday's performance by taking a leaf out of their first-half display against Watford when they went 2-0 up.

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"The first analysis is on how we can improve and recover our confidence, starting and controlling the match," Emery added. "Sunday we struggled more than we wanted and also we made some mistakes and conceded some goals.

"We want to control every game with the ball, with positioning. We did on Sunday in the first half."

Frankfurt reached the semi-finals last season, where they were beaten by eventual champions Chelsea and Emery - who has won the Europa League three times with Sevilla but lost last year's final - said he was looking forward to a "new challenge" this season.

Frankfurt progress through to the Europa League semi-finals on away goals
Image: Eintracht Frankfurt progressed to the Europa League semi-finals last season

"Usually Eintracht are doing high pressing," Emery said. "Some mistakes we made on Sunday we need to improve. Tomorrow is another challenge to show how we can improve.

"Last year Frankfurt played in the same semi-final as Chelsea. To start tomorrow with them is a tough match.

"We have good feelings for the competition in this season. We lost the final last season but this is a new challenge for us."

Is Emery focusing on PL?

Mesut Ozil was brought off during Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Watford
Image: Mesut Ozil was brought off during Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Watford

Danny Murphy told The Debate: "I think for a player of his quality and experience, if he's fit to play at the weekend, he should be fit to travel. But it's hard when you don't know what's going on internally at a football club. He should want to travel - I'd be wanting to get my fitness up and get back into the team.

"The Mesut Ozil situation is not as difficult to deal with as people think. You either bin him and get rid of him if you can or you get him fully fit, you pat him on the back and you get him in the team and play him. When he plays, he makes chances."

Matt Murray added: "It makes me think he (Emery) is prioritising the Premier League and that he has to get into the top four. He thinks he has enough to go over to Frankfurt and get a result, but Aston Villa at home with Ozil at it will be the difference. They need to get him playing regularly."

Kolasinac: Attack was difficult mentally

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac
Image: Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac spoke for the first time about how he and Ozil had been the target of gang attacks on the eve of the season.

Kolasinac jumped out of a vehicle to confront masked aggressors in the summer, who had pulled alongside them on mopeds, while a separate incident led to two men being charged with a public order offence outside Ozil's house.

"About what happened, I don't want to talk about it in details," he said.

"It's happened and it's something that belongs to the past. The same with Mesut. We are back and we focus on our job and team. We have a very important match ahead here in Frankfurt.

"Well of course I'm happy to be back. Of course mentally this was hard, missing also training for a couple of days.

"I made up for it. I'm back and happy to be back with the team and able to perform with them on the pitch with the team."

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