The German, who has been sidelined through injury but was passed fit for Saturday's game, did not travel to the London Stadium, with Emery saying, 'the players here are better for the match today'. We could have won or lost, like we can with him. I think it is not one player (which means) we can't win or lose.
But Emery did not mention any injury issue when asked to explain why Ozil was left out.
Indeed, Ozil was not part of the 18-man squad for Arsenal's north London derby defeat to Tottenham in the Carabao Cup back in December, with Emery having insisted on that occasion that it was due to "tactical reasons".More news: Rafael Nadal allays injury concerns, pays tribute to Andy Murray
"If we want to be up there, we have to win. We continue working with every player because they are all important, but the decision was to come with these players".
West Ham are interested in Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson as a potential replacement for Marko Arnautovic. The 19-year-old Rice placed the ball into the top of the net after being set up by Samir Nasri on the former Arsenal midfielder's league debut for West Ham.
"We'll see what happens in the next days", Pellegrini told Sky Sports.
"I think he's doing the right thing by taking his time and thinking about his situation".More news: Matt Kuchar takes one-shot lead over Andrew Putnam at Sony Open
Although Ozil and Arnautovic were talking points, match-winner Rice was singled out for praise by Pellegrini.
West Ham came close to opening the scoring when Rice headed wide when unmarked from a corner just before half-time.
He is yet to decide whether to represent England or the Republic of Ireland at global level, but Pellegrini is sure that whichever nation he opts to play for will benefit. "We need to do more to be more competitive and to impose our ideas and our quality".More news: Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focussed summit