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Mesut Ozil has to be Arsenal first-team regular, says Jamie Carragher

"I'm not Ozil’s biggest fan but you cannot tell me he is not good enough to get into this Arsenal team. He ran the game, his role in both goals was fantastic and he showed his class and composure"

Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil's eye-catching return at Liverpool is evidence he has to be a first-team regular at Arsenal, says Jamie Carragher.

Ozil, making his first appearance since September and only his third start of the season, lit up the Carabao Cup fourth-round tie with a timely reminder of the scintillating attacking flair he possesses.

The German had a hand in three Gunners goals, including an instinctive drag-back for Ainsley Maitland-Niles' effort early in the second half, before being substituted on 65 minutes to a chorus of boos from the travelling Arsenal contingent, who were displeased with Unai Emery's decision.

Arsenal would go on to surrender a lead for the third time in Ozil's absence as Divock Origi's 94th-minute equaliser confirmed a thrilling 5-5 draw before the Premier League leaders prevailed into the quarter-finals 5-4 on penalties.

Carra: Ozil must be reinstated

"I said before the game that Ozil should run the game, he's a World Cup winner playing against younger players," Sky Sports pundit Carragher said. "He was really good and his role in both goals was fantastic, he showed his class and composure.

"I'm not Ozil's biggest fan but you cannot tell me he is not good enough to get into this Arsenal team, this isn't a great Arsenal team. The criticism with Ozil is whether he can take Arsenal to the Premier League title or the Champions League, but at the moment they are trying to get into the top four so he has to be in their team or best XI.

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup last-16 match between Liverpool and Arsenal

"No one is doing anything consistent for Arsenal at the moment, not just Ozil. Arsenal are in a position where so many players are not at the top of their game that they almost have to put up with what Ozil doesn't do.

"Forget about playing him in the big games, play him against the likes of Crystal Palace, who they let a two-goal lead slip against on Sunday, and see out games. If you look at the front three, I am sure they would love to have Ozil feeding them."

Smith: Ongoing Ozil omission strange


Former Arsenal striker and Sky Sports co-commentator Alan Smith has questioned Emery's consistent overlooking of Ozil when he still poses such a devastating attacking threat.

"When you see Ozil in this kind of form, it does make Emery's decision to leave him out look like a strange one. He is making the team tick and has shown fantastic vision."

Emery: Ozil substitution planned

Ozil has only started one Premier League this season under Unai Emery
Image: Ozil has only started one Premier League game this season under Unai Emery

Ozil's withdrawal shortly after the hour at Anfield drew a heated response from the Arsenal supporters but Emery insists the decision was discussed before the game, hinting at the German's possible involvement in the Gunners' Premier League clash at home to Wolves on Saturday.

"I was pleased with what I saw," the Gunners boss said. "He played as we want, with experience and his skills to help the team. He came back to help us with his quality, and spirit and he played with good spirit and helped us with his quality.

"We decided beforehand that it was better for him to have a rest. He worked really well for 65 minutes. In my mind is the possibility to use him again [in the Premier League]."

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