Why Ozil must be sold in January by Alfie Culshaw
Unai Emery clearly doesn’t fancy Mesut Ozil and doesn’t trust him in his system, that requires a number 10 capable of intense, consistent pressing. It’s either that or there has been a severe breakdown in their relationship, but I feel as though it is the latter.
Yesterday, hooked off at half-time, it appeared this was the climax of this tension and this situation. The substitution was not “tactical” for this particular game, but was made as another signal from Emery to the board that he doesn’t see the German as a key part of the future of the team. In a half where Ozil had enabled Arsenal to control the game, having 6 shots on goal, scoring once and getting into dangerous areas. Arsenal lost all their momentum in the second period when Mesut’s replacement Alex Iwobi failed to have the same impact, and the team failed to muster a single shot on goal.
Whilst Ozil wasn’t scintillating, he provided a link between the 3 deep midfielders in Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka, and the forward players Lacazette and Aubameyang. In the second 45, our midfield struggled to bring the front 3 into play, continuously losing the ball when looking for them. This struggle was eased with the introduction of Aaron Ramsey, who looked to get into the pockets between Brighton’s defence and midfield and bring in our attacking players, offering our midfielders an option to link defence with attack. However, the decision to revert to a back 3 when Maitland-Niles was introduced removed an attacking player, thus removing an option for Ramsey when getting the ball in these forward areas, therefore not maximising our attacking potential.
Ozil had provided this out-ball in the first half. Whilst fans may look at his lack of defence splitting passes or driving runs as a signal of his lack of input into the game; he was at the heart of most of our play that allowed us to get into the final third. In the first period, 32% of the play was in Brighton’s defensive third. Comparatively, in the first 15 minutes of the second period, just 2% of the play was in the same third of the pitch.
Yes, the substitution derailed us and was a poor one from the manager, but it was an indication of how far Emery has come in his desire to use the playmaker. It was merely a few months ago when Emery named Ozil as one of his 5 captains and said that Arsenal needed to be “like his home”. Now, he doesn’t start away at Bournemouth or get into the matchday squad against Tottenham for tactical reasons. We can say, with almost certainty, that he won’t start away at Liverpool, despite the huge list of injuries we have. Both an out of form Iwobi and an impending departure in Ramsey are more likely to start than the German. This is our highest paid player and biggest name, yet we are confident he won’t start in one of our biggest games this season. This speaks volumes to me.
You can’t deny Mesut Ozil’s talent, but you can question his ability to produce it on a consistent basis. On his day, he’s one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. But his day doesn’t come often enough. Emery, combined with not seeing him fit into his pressing style, has recognised this and no longer wants him at the club. For this reason, as we must be looking to provide the manager with all the tools he desires to bring success to the club.
This means that, for me, Mesut Ozil has to be sold.