Paul Merson has joked that Mesut Ozil might as well consider hanging up his boots if he cannot make it into Arsenal’s starting eleven.
The Ozil saga is one of the strangest in football at the moment. It is a story that continues to baffle people inside and and outside the club. It is very evident that Arsenal boss Unai Emery has fallen out with the German. However, there is still no clear indication as to what caused the rift.
It also makes no sense because Arsenal have been in terrible form lately. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United, and surrendered an 11 point lead over them in the Premier League that dropped them down to 5th in the table. Yesterday, they lost to Belarusian side BATE Borisov in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 32.
The side are in desperate need of a creative engine. Ozil is that engine. He is arguably the best player the club have on their roster. However, because of the fall-out with Emery, he is hardly even getting a game these days. The midfielder has surprisingly been excluded from match day squads six times this season.
Leaving the German out has clearly backfired on so many occasions. A 1-0 embarrassing defeat to West Ham in January was one such occasion. Yesterday all but hit the nail on the coffin. The 30-year-old was completely excluded from the side that traveled to Belarus, and Arsenal looked lost without him. Alexandre Lacazette cut an extremely frustrated figure up top and ended up getting sent off.
The decision to leave Ozil out yet again surprised many pundits, who just couldn’t wrap their heads around it. Paul Merson was one of them.
“You play your best players and work around them,” the former Gunners midfielder told Sky Sports News. “Ozil is Arsenal’s best player and he doesn’t play, it beats me.
“He must sit at home and watch Arsenal and think ‘how am I not getting into this team?’
“I don’t know if they are trying to push him into retirement, because he must sit there and think he might as well retire if he can’t get into Arsenal team.”
Merson added that he believes Ozil should play no matter what as, despite his defensive frailties, he is a lethal weapon going forward.
“Ozil is not so influential that you have to build a team around him, but he has to play because he is their best player,” he added.
“He’s not going to run around and put sliding tackles in, that is never going to happen, but he makes things happen.
“Arsenal have to stick with him, they are not good enough not to have him in the team.”