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Is there a way back for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal?

| 20.12.2018

Playmaker was dropped again for North London derby

Teams need their star players to step up in tense matches against their biggest rivals. But Arsenal boss Unai Emery left Mesut Ozil out of the squad entirely for Wednesday’s North London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Emery admitted that he’d left the World Cup winner out for tactical reasons. After previously benching the midfielder against Bournemouth as he felt the game would be too physical for him, it appears Ozil isn’t part of the new manager’s plans.

He’s only started 11 of 26 games for the club in all competitions. And the 30-year-old has only featured in one away game since the trip to Newcastle United in September. The club aren’t getting much value from their highest-paid player.

With the Gunners 7/5 to secure a top-four spot, can they count on him or is his time at the Emirates coming to an end?

Can Ozil adapt?

Emery’s issue with Ozil is clear to see. He doesn’t get enough from him when the side don’t have possession.

That’s always been the case with the former Real Madrid man, but Arsene Wenger was prepared to accept that in exchange for what he does provide when he gets on the ball. Emery demands everyone does their bit going forwards and defensively.

The 2013 £40m signing was at his very best in the home win over Leicester City, but he hasn’t hit those heights often enough to justify his place in the side.

If Ozil was racking up assists, the manager might be more inclined to find a place for him. But he’s only created one goal in 11 league appearances this term.

Would there be any takers?

For all of his weaknesses, Ozil remains one of the best creative players in the business. But he needs to be given freedom to truly shine. And very few playmakers are given a free rein anymore. The likes of David Silva, Christian Eriksen and Philippe Coutinho all have to stick to their side’s respective systems.

If Arsenal do want to move their star man on, the other issue is the huge contract they gave him in January. There are only a handful of clubs that could match his current wages. Even fewer would be willing to do so.

The German may have to take a pay cut and also step down a level if he wants out. Would he be willing to do that?

It looks like he’ll be sticking around for the time being. Will the midfielder change his game or will the manager have to compromise on his approach? If neither budges, they both ultimately lose out.

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Daniel Anwar

Daniel has written about sport for Coral, Squawka, FourFourTwo and the Premier League, among others.