Unai Emery’s team selections have divided Arsenal fans opinions this season, but never has he been under greater pressure to get it right than this Thursday. To clarify, no matter who who he picks we should have enough to beat BATE, but if the worse was to happen and he continues to field a back 5 and 2 DMs for the sake of an attacking player, we have a right to be angry.
All managers should stick to their principles and clearly he needs more transfer windows to find individuals who fit into his ethos. He also has a duty to do the best he can in the short-term . Like any coach, that means getting the best out of the tools he has. Long term he might not rate Ramsey or Ozil. At the very least he doesn’t feel they justify salaries he could use elsewhere.
He’s being paid though lots of money to make Gooners happy. The Europa League remains our most realistic route back into the Champions League and an early exit would mentally affect our campaign. To win football matches you play your best talent. This is not to say Ramsey and Ozil don’t have faults. The question should be are they better than our other options?
I refuse to believe that our boss truly believes that in a fixture where the away team will park the bus, that Ozil is not ‘tactically’ a better option than Iwobi. That’s where I think some fans are confused. Defending Ozil is not a knock on Emery. Nor should the Spaniard be immune from critics just because he’s only been here for 8 months (he has the same points as under-fire Sarri). It’s more a case of the current system not working, so why keep doing the same thing, expecting different results?
How many chances does Iwobi need? How many times do we need to see he hasn’t the final ball for this level? When we were going 22 games unbeaten you couldn’t argue with his team selection but when you have only won twice away since November, and have one of your most humiliating defeats in Belarus, it is fair to expect change.
When we are lacking creativity, it is not out of order to ask for a man with the most assists in Europe since coming to England to be given a chance. If Ozil doesn’t start this week, we know Emery is putting his personal view of Ozil ahead of what’s best for the team. He now needs to show his ego isn’t so big that he can’t admit he’s made a mistake.
If Emery doesn’t pick Ozil and we go out of Europe, he deserves to be questioned.