Ljungberg gives rare insight into why Ozil is being excluded at Arsenal

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?

Tags Ljungberg Ozil


  1. FL is probably correct, but the same lack of athleticism applies to Xhaka and to a lesser extent Ceballos.Little wonder we were over run by a very fit Leeds side yesterday.

      1. AUBA_14 I was surprised when I saw that also on whoscore, Ceballos was MOM, even sky gave him a higher rating than the whole of Leeds midfield but then what do I know.

      2. Ceballos MOM 😂😂
        That midfield was over ran time and again yesterday .
        Misplaced passes every 30 seconds .
        Not sure taking ratings from whoscored should be believed anymore than reading the ratings in the Sun newspaper .
        Keeper and both full backs was miles ahead of everyone else yesterday followed by the 2 CB .
        Ceballos was near the bottoms of the ratings .

        1. Spoke up for Ceballos on here under the “Is He a Flop” article, when half a dozen (yes that’s all) were quick to come on and “rubbish” the player.

          In another distinctly “average” performance I thought Dani did a reasonable job, and would figure in the upper end of a pretty low rating set.

          As for the comments above revolving around lack of knowledge of the game – yes, it does make you wonder !

      3. I always said about Ceballos he is always very active, looks busy like a bee, runs in place like mad but at the end you ask yourself what did he actually accomplish? And you discover it was NOTHING.

        1. Agreed Lcw ,he’s a busy little bee but we had one of them in Ramsey and we had 1 good season out of 10 with him .

        2. Once upon a time we were called a Tiki Taka team, kind of Barca lite. Now we are simply huff and puff with little to no end product.

    1. ‘Maybe doesn’t have the athleticism’ was probably Freddie’s way of being diplomatic. It’s more a lack of desire to be physically imposing to the opponent.

      Ceballos isn’t really stronger or faster than Ozil. He just wants to get the ball back more

    2. Are you crazy. Ceballos runs way more than some other players. He used to even press high up the pitch. Now doesn’t bother much since the wingers don’t press up, why should he cover for them that high?

  2. OT

    We are currently in a stage where the club has to officially make statements condemning tge abuse directed at ‘our’ players in social medai…..

    Wow guyz

      1. It sure is….
        Wheres all that “…through thick and through thin”?😔

        We are all gunners
        And we call ourself a family….
        And the fanbase of a club which is loved all over the world for its class and ethics doing this….😔

        1. Shakir some fans are are not supposed to be an arsenal fan. That I no longer rate Ozil as a top player doesn’t mean I will call him names. I saw so many post even on justarsenal yesterday where some fans were calling Pepe stupid, donkey, I don’t know maybe those words means something else in England but as fans I think we should always stand with our own players, you have every right to criticize a player but there should be a limit not you going off calling him stupid foolish and stuffs like that.

      2. “Social Media”.

        Heralded as a platform for the exchange of information, and users to “connect”.

        So often misused.

  3. Have we been pressing??the answer is a capital NO….Ozil played very well under Arteta….dropping him can’t ever be for footballing reasons.

    1. Our pressing is amateurish compared to the teams that really do press.

      We have 1 or 2 us pressing 3 or 4 of them, while the rest watch on as the press is easily broken

  4. love him or hate him, it was a mistake to leave him out of all squads completely imo.

    I totally get what FL said here and we all know this has always been the case of Ozil, he has never been that player to press relentlessly or be defensive at anytime in his career, but he can find a pass like no other in our squad.

    MA is under some real pressure right now and this will be a test for him, how he deals with it and how he comes out at the other end.

    MA was both angry last night and extremely ‘down’ in his post match interview and rightly so, we were poor, even before Pepe’s red card.

    He needs to find something from somewhere and pretty fast or he won’t last long, as much as lot of us love him, at the end of the day results matter and its a tough old game for managers that dont produce.

    BTW, this is not me saying MA out

  5. EPL has gone so crazy , that any creative midfielder must be Athletic,
    Ozil can’t play unless we have 4 box to box players on the pitch,
    It would be great to have dominik, Partey, Willock/Maitland/Soumare in the midfield and have saka, Aubameyang and Martinelli upfront.

    1. Most of the successful managers of late somehow managed to get their creative midfielders to participate in high pressing as a team.

      It’s become the norm nowadays. I can hardly think of any creative players and number 10s of the top teams currently who takes it easy when they lose the ball

    2. Our fitness level is one of the worst in the league. Leeds should have won that game by 2 or 3.

      Some of the folks were getting high after the ‘good’ one nil defeat vs City and the one nil win vs manu.

      Its been clear since start of season. That Arsenal don’t create enough chances. Heck even Fulham have more chances pre game than us. If you rule out the first game vs Fulham, they also scored more than us.

      No link up between any of the forward. They ve been in the team over one season but Auba, Laca and Pepe can’t even get one move together.

      Some of these players are tied to huge wage contracts and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them right now, even Willain, who had 2 good games in the season so far.

  6. In general Arsenal has usually been one of the least fit teams in the league over the past 15 years. What saves us is that we often had/have high possession but now that we don’t you can see how unfit we really are.

    Add that to lack of passion and we are bang average…

    1. 100% correct. They are probably still doing passes in training only which is quite shocking in itself really because they can’t string together 5 passes in the game in the attacking half.

      They don’t even go into challenges or try to win ball up the field anymore. Do you know who else is struggling with this same problem? City. They don’t have ball winners anymore, and also don’t go into challenges only their CBs, walker Fernadinho and Jesus actually try to win the ball. Peps gonna spend in January if it stays like this. Tottenham, Leicester and Liverpool won the midfield battle against them outright.

      Martinelli is gonna outscore everyone in the team when he comes back. I’d build team with him, Saka and Niles as main players for future.

    2. PJ-SA
      Bang on comment mate.
      Remember what Gael Clichy said about his first training at Man city, the intensity and tackles flying in, compared to Arsenal just having a kick about.

  7. Ozil could have played against MKDons Fulham Sheffield U Rapid Wien Molde and Dundalk. 300 k p/w for going to training 3 times a week. Its criminal. But what exactly is the reason he was frozen out? Freddie’s comments are vague at best. No one will come out and tell the truth.

    1. Wyoming even if ozil himself comes out and tell you that he was dropped for football reason, I’m sure some of you will still say he was forced to say it, there’s absolutely no pleasing some of you.

  8. That is how Ozil has always been since, but we play real good when he’s involved though we lose sometimes.
    It is better to have only creativity and result, than neither athleticism, creativity nor result. That is our current direction without him, and getting worse.

    Everybody must not be a “Broc Lesnar” in the wrestling world. Some have to “Ray Mysterio.” Variety is the spice of life.

  9. Discussing Mesut Ozil’s absence in football terms is stupid. He has not played all season so how can anyone claim it’s his play or fitness or attitude? Neither Freddie Ljunberg nor anyone else has seen any of those things.

    Saying Ozil does not have the athleticism “anymore” without any actual evidence is just speculation, and in the context of a poor draw where the team played terribly even before the red card, is just another excuse-hunt.

    Personally, I think Arteta can be successful, but not if he lets the front office tell him who he can play and who he can’t. Arsenal have no one better than Ozil at attacking midfield, something painfully obvious to anyone watching them these days.

    It is also odd that people give Arteta credit for “tightening up at the back” and in the next breath criticize the team for not scoring more. Playing two holding midfielders in front of a back four and leaving the club’s most creative attacking player out of the side is going to have an effect on the way the team plays.

    It has. Arsenal surrender fewer goals but score fewer as well. Arteta’s style of play, which has been inconsistent in terms of formation and focus, seems more Mourinho than Wenger. It was odd, to be honest, watching Leeds “out Arsenal” Arsenal.

    Regardless of Freddie Ljunberg’s baseless speculaton, none of the reasons for Ozil’s absence actually matter – he cannot play before January because he is not on the roster.

    Given the club’s determination to claim (echoed by lazy shills at pundit desks) that Ozil is being left out of the team for reasons related to his play, a claim that is clearly untrue, it seems unlikely that, after months of deliberately excluding him, anyone at Arsenal, from Arteta to Kroenke, has the humility or the courage to admit they were wrong and put Ozil back on the pitch.

    Clearly Arsenal hope to force him out before the end of hsi deal to save a few million. They’ll fail. Again. But this management team, so clearly lacking integrity, insight, and ability, will certainly try again.

    1. Well said however Mourinho had the right players in place to execute. MA did not even think about having the right players. Buying a 32 year old washed up winger is a proof.

  10. Patrice Evra to the mix among the puzzled:
    Speaking on Sky Sports, former Man Utd defender Patrice Evra said: “We’re talking about Ozil, a quality player. He won the World Cup!
    “We’re talking about creativity. Messi doesn’t have a massive work rate – it’s not like I can compare Messi to Ozil, but he’s playing, so for me it [work rate’s] not an excuse. When you have a player like Ozil he has to play.
    “It must be something with the club. It can’t be the manager and the players, it’s something with the club. Freddie won’t say it but when you have Ozil and a lack of creativity the stats don’t lie.”
    At least give him a chance. He’s a professional, I think he’s training very well so give him a chance.
    “Now to say he’s not running enough you say he’s not playing, but you have a lack of creativity – it doesn’t make sense to me.”

      1. 👍👍

        Leaving out our most experienced, only creative and attacking midfield player whoever he is and whatever he earns, makes no sense whatsoever… it’s as simple as that.

        1. Ken, I’ve been saying this for months as you know.

          I really did think that signing TP would have made Ozil a viable option as we would have had some kind of security in place for where Ozil falls short.

          I said it then that it was a mistake leaving him out completely and that is down to money rather than for football reasons and I’ll maintain that stance until Ozil comes out at the end of the season and gives his version of why and thats if he does anyway.

    1. It’s obviously Ozils fault that willian is a worse player that could not lace his boots and plays ahead of him while producing less end product. Footballing reasons my Arsenal.
      This whole issue will affect the squad big time. How dumb can you be to put Ur name and stamp on it.

      1. @Gee! Actually Willian played better against Leeds. However he got injured again and was replaced. It goes back to buying 32 year old and asking them to play a key role on your team. Makes no sense.

  11. Why do we keep coming back to ozil, he is not in the team and Arsneal don’t want to play him. Leave the guy alone man. All these articles about ozil is just so people can vent their frustration out on him which they can on playing team and fan favourite MA. Even when he is not playing ppl are indirectly still blaming him. Only time will tell if Arsenal made a mistake or brilliant decision by throwing him out of the team. The hate I see for ozil on this site from fans is unbelievable, it’s not like he committed a big crime.

  12. The ongoing speculation about Ozil is only negative for Arsenal.
    Objectively: he has been excluded from the playing squad but remains an Arsenal player. How can this be good for our club?

  13. Stats don’t lie..

    According to Sky Sports:

    Nicolas Pepe: Games: 39 – Creative chances: 42.
    Mesut Ozil: Games: 18 – Creative chances: 38.
    Dani Ceballos: Games: 32 – Creative chances: 37. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Games: 38 – Creative chances: 37.

    It’s clear that Ozil was still the most creative player!!!

    WTF is going on at Arsenal FC ?

      1. Some people thought Arsenal unearthed a gem of a player in Pepe, a player whose goal tally was made half of penalties in French ligue. Then paid £72m for him.

        Lacazette £50m+, first touch so poor.
        Auba and William sitting on huge wages now.

        The first thing to do, is to admit these players are not upto standards. They’re slow in the pitch like Ozil used to be.

        Now there is even less money to spend, since you can’t get rid of these players.

    1. Stats don’t lie but they mislead the unthinking into implicitly believing they give the whole truth. Sober minded folk with some life experience realise that stats when misused hastily and wrongly, give a very false picture.

      Stats, properly and sensibly used , have their place but are only a guide and sensible folk know that so well Some other folk rely on them implicitly though, you for example.

      1. Just watch the dross being played by Arsenal right now Jon and you realise that there is nothing misleading about our lack of creativity. In fact, stats tell more about performances than even you realise. I dont rely on them. I do however see truth in them.

  14. This “new” athleticism that naive fans seen to think is now needed in midfield but which “presumably” was NOT needed in times gone by, is of course nonsense. Nonsense, in the sense that athletic ability has ALWAYS been vitally important in any top level team sport. Many conspiracy theories abound as to WHY Ozil was left out of MA’s squad.

    To my sober thinking mind, the ACTUAL reason was always clear; that he is simply not hard working nor athletic enough to do an adequate job. let alone to be the star player he once was, albeit it several years ago now.

    In this age of easily deluded people who willingly buy into would be conspiracy theories(Q Anon believers and many others, who mostly have a personal agenda against the mainstream thinking) it is no surprise that many prefer outlandish, half baked nonsense to the actual truth.

    But my view remains that if it looks idle, plays in an idle fashion and achieves almost nothing and for some considerable time, then, just like Ozil, that player IS idle and idle players are useless and non athletic, at least when coasting , sorry I mean playing.

    1. Nonsense as usual by someone who hates Ozil…
      FACTS: good enough for Germany, Real…

      Certified excellent at Arsenal. Then the players who used Ozil’s service, Giroud and Alexis left. Those who arrived to replace them were not as good at finishing, often wasting chances.

      Ozil haters with no real football knowledge decided it was time to make Arsenal Great Again. Guess what? We are not #12.

  15. I think Ozil has been our worse player for 2 years, why should we want an over the hill, non athletic, non producing, non trying player anyway. He is finished with Arsenal, there is no eay he is coming back in the team, the sooner he is gone, the sooner we can stop talking about a non event.

  16. Ljungberg makes perfect sense ….the reality is MO was never a high energy player saw him at the 2010 World Cup and he was already a special playmaker. His ability to pick a pass and set up attacks are unmatched in the current Arsenal team. The illusion has been sold is that he is lazy and has a bad attitude. I have been a Arsenal fan for 40 years and not seen any player that the club has demonized in this way. A W had warned that we are in danger of losing out values….. He was spot on. Fans and the Club have adopted a posture against this player and more will follow

    1. “A W had warned that we are in danger of losing out values”

      That ship has sailed a while ago with sacking 55 staff, gunnersaurus, super agents, loyal players treated like shit, press leaks etc.

      “The illusion has been sold is that he is lazy and has a bad attitude. ”

      And stupid Arsenal fans bought it without question.

      “I have been a Arsenal fan for 40 years and not seen any player that the club has demonized in this way.”

      Its something isn’t it, I have never seen more Arsenal fans not think for themselves and what they see and just repeat what the media lies to them.

      The same lot that screemed for Wenger to go. How is that looking now?

  17. Ozil hasn’t played a game all year yet our midfield is constantly being over run. Doesn’t say much for the grafters and hard men in our team. Lacazett, William and Auba have had game after game where they have barely been sighted,yet they’ve remained in the good books. Freddie’s theory does not compute. Remember Pirlo? He never ran but remained an amazing player until his retirement. This is because his managers knew how to play him, stringing in others do the chasing while he spread out those amazing passes. I mean what else do the likes of Elani Xhaka and Maitland Niles get payed for but to run, win back the ball and feed their betters who can make someone happen,even though currently that seems beyond them.

  18. Bring back Wenger. With this talented team, he would play an attacking formation, letting the defenders defend. Wenger would at least stop playing the stupid press game that is killing the creativity out this team.

  19. It’s not Ozil’s fault that pure number 10 are slowly phased out of the game. Today’s football is more about athleticism than finesse and it’s not beautiful at all. It’s like watching 22 athletes with some footballing skills than 22 footballers on the pitch.

  20. For his not concurring to the pay cut that the club had instituted for all their players and staff, Ozil has erred by committing a gross act of insurbodition crime against Arsenal FC interest.

    He’s the highest paid player at the club and a super star player who is supposed to take the lead to lead by example by being the first player to agree to the pay cut. Which he knows was Covid-19 necessitated to help steady the swirling Arsenal finance ship from getting rocked at that dare time.

    Everyone at Arsenal cooperated to take the pay cut but Ozil and 2 others declined taking it for their stingy selfish reason against the club that is giving them so much money to earn. But they bluntly refused to temporarily give back a little out of what the club is giving them to club in it’s time of serious needs.

    Now, if I am Kroenke, what will I do to my staff that I employed to work for me and I am paying him his wages as agreed and as when due. But he doesn care to sympathise with me by bearing it with me to take a small cut in his wages for a while pending when my finance that is hit will recover? Continue to shower love on my staff Ozil?

    No! I won’t. Rather, I will not want him to work for me anymore. But since I can’t pay him off all of his wages at once to stop working for me immediately if I want him to go as per the contract term us signed, i will choose to be paying him as normal till I finish paying him completely. But since there isn’t any harmonious relationship between him and myself anymore, I will distance my associating with him.

    This is what I believe Arsenal are currently doing to Ozil and his two fellow collaborators.

    This Ozil deserting Arsenal by refusing to financially come to aid the club when he can in their time needing financial support is the problem that I have with Ozil on ethical and moral grounds. But nothing else. And I believe Ozil himself knows this. For, if he has consented to the pay cut, surely, I believe he would have been playing for Arsenal this season.

  21. FL is rumoured to have shaded MA here.
    I’ve always known this: MA would suffer from his ruthless decisions and only if he could summon the courage to undo his foolish ruthless decision regardless of whatever his statutory is.
    Don’t be surprised to see MO back and even with a renewed contract. Maybe a year or so.
    His absence is badly affecting the effectiveness of some of our players (Willian, Pepe, Auba…)
    I trust he’d get better results if he bring him back.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs