There has been so much speculation about why Mesut Ozil has been left out in the cold by Mikel Arteta, who didn’t even include the German in Arsenal’s Europa or Premier League squad lists, with even Ozil himself suggesting that it could be because of his refusal to take a pay cut or his support for his Muslim brothers in China, but it is rare that we actually get an opinion from someone who has been personally involved in the situation.
Freddie Ljungberg was a senior coach when Unai Emery was in charge, and subsequently became interim Arsenal manager and picked the team for six games before the arrival of Mikel Arteta. In the first 3, Ljungberg chose Ozil in the starting XI, against Norwich, Brighton and West Ham (with Ozil providing one assist) but then was left out of the next three.
Ljungberg explained on Sky Sports (as transcribed by Football London) that Ozil did not have “the athleticism” to face the bigger teams any more. He said: “When I chose to play him, I felt as a club, when you play at home against smaller clubs, where you feel like you should dominate a little bit – then he should be on the pitch to unlock defences with his special passes.
“Yes, he maybe doesn’t have the athleticism that is demanded now in the Premier League, so you lose a little bit of that, but I felt he should be good enough.
“When you play City, who have the ball all of the time, maybe that’s not the game for having Mesut on the pitch, but if you want creativity, wow, his left foot is fantastic.”
So, there you have it from the horses mouth. Basically Ozil isn’t quick enough to influence big games any more, but Ljungberg tried to give him chances against smaller teams. Perhaps Arteta only wants players that can can press the opposition in every game and agrees with Freddie that the German simply isn’t up to it any more?
What do you make of Freddie’s comments?