Given how badly he got it wrong in the first leg you would have thought Unai Emery would have been delighted his more attacking Arsenal team rescued the tie on Thursday? Yet our manager seemed at pains not to give Ozil any praise, nor any guarantees that the German would get a run in the side. It seems harsh, the midfielder has constantly been told what he is doing wrong and yet even when he takes part in one of our more creative performances in recent times, he still can’t get his boss’ approval. It would be unfair if the World Cup Winner doesn’t get another chance to impress this Sunday.
The old rule is not to change a winning side and it’s hard to see how Southampton at home does not qualify for a game ‘tactically suitable ‘for our number 10. The likes of Iwobi have had enough chances to prove they are a better option in the final third, which begs the question why does Ozil seems to be the only one having to jump through hoops to start? Based on our two fixtures with BATE, you would think our coach had learnt his lesson by discarding our best player, and would never wish to make that mistake again?
A lot of Gooners lost faith in the Spaniard by not sending our highest earner to Belarus. Having got away with it, he should breathe a sigh of relief and rethink his position. So why in his post-match press conference was he not doing everything to lift the confidence of man whose self-belief he has hurt? Why was he still demanding more from one individual yet not the rest?
Potentially this could be the period we learn about Emery the man. His problem with now trusting Ozil, is it will be an admission he’s made mistakes. Not just in terms of his opinion on the player but his wish to sacrifice an offensive minded player for a defensive one. This past week was the first time he was pressured into naming Ozil in his eleven. He knew that being knocked out of Europe while a man on 350 000 pound a week played Fortnite would have been a sackable offence. It was clear his joy to still be in the Europa League, but he didn’t seem to enjoy the assertion that the guy he froze out had proved a point.
If Ozil is dropped against the Saints, we know (like Sarri at Chelsea) it is stubbornness coming into play.
All managers should stick to their ethos, the very best should not sacrifice their principles but you also have to adapt to what you see daily. Emery needs to be big enough to admit he hasn’t been able to find a better alternative to Ozil. There’s no guarantee he will buckle. He didn’t speak to Ben Arfa for a year when the two clashed on tactics, while he even tried to take on Neymar at PSG, a power play he was never going to win.
Long term, Mr Kroenke is most likely to be open to getting such a sum off his wage bill. Yet for a man who seems content to stay in North London, it’s advantage Ozil.