Arsenal manager Unai Emery declined to publicly assure Mesut Ozil’s future at the Emirates Stadium after once more leaving the playmaker out of his first-team plans.
Ozil was excluded from the Gunners’ matchday squad as they faced north London rivals Tottenham in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie.
Without the former Germany international Spurs ran out 2-0 winners , Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli scoring for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
This latest snub means Ozil has made just two appearances for Arsenal in more than a month, including 20 minutes off the bench in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Southampton.
But Emery repeatedly dodged questions on the possibility of a sale in January while insisting the decision was “tactical”.
“My focus is analysing this match and Saturday,” he responded when asked about whether Ozil could depart Arsenal.
“It was a tactical decision because I thought the players today with us were for us the best for this match.”
According to the boss, Ozil was present in the Emirates on Wednesday to see his team-mates go down to the club’s fiercest rivals.
“He is thinking of every player we have, 24, 25 players… it is for me the decision,” Emery added when pressed on the Ozil issue.
“I am thinking about the match on Saturday and not thinking another situation. Every player is important, and one I decided would not play. Only a tactical decision.”
Ozil made a positive start to the 2018-19 amid conflicts with the German FA and the fallout from a disastrous Russia 2018 for the previous World Cup holders, which culminated in his retirement from international football.
The star hit four goals in his first nine outings between the Premier League and Europa League, but has failed to score again since October 22, while his only assist in the last two months came in a dead rubber against Azerbaijan’s Qarabag.
The fixtures pile up fast for the Gunners, with Burnley up next on Saturday and a midweek clash against Brighton on tap for Boxing Day.
Arsenal also close out 2018 with a crunch clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool on December 29.