The Mesut Ozil conundrum: Arsenal’s tactics under the spotlight after Gilberto Silva claim
As Arsenal’s highest earner is left at home while the Gunners’ woes continue – Arsenal Legend Gilberto Silva asks whether it is time to reintroduce Mesut Ozil in a different mould.
Despite not featuring for Arsenal since March 7 – and failing to even be registered for this season’s 25-man Premier League squad – no name sparks heated debate among the Gunners faithful quite like Mesut Ozil.
A mercurially talented playmaker on his day, the latter years of Ozil’s seven-year residency at the Emirates will have undoubtedly tarnished the German’s legacy.
The debate, however, is surrounding who is to blame?
There are multiple candidates who could be held culpable when analysing Ozil’s demise, but the man himself has hardly helped his cause.
Having put pen to paper on a lucrative new contract in 2018, Ozil pledged his loyalty to Arsenal for a further three years.
The deal saw Ozil become the highest-paid player in the club’s history, rumoured to be pocketing an eye-watering £350,000 a week. His form since has left much to be desired.
The weekly-wage figure has been subject to intense scrutiny, even before the German’s complete extradition from the squad.
Constant breakdown’s as to how much Ozil cost his side per goal or assist, his dire form mixed with his staggering wage quickly became a source of ridicule for both Arsenal and opposition fans alike.
Upon Mikel Arteta’s arrival, Arsenal fans watched with baited breath as they hoped the appointment of the former Gunners midfielder would see Ozil return to the kind of form that led to Arsenal parting ways with £42million back in 2013 – their record signing at the time.
However, after regularly featuring from December to March, Ozil was nowhere to be seen during Project Restart.
Failing to make the grade for Arsenal’s 2020/21 Premier League squad, Ozil has been left to watch from home as his side struggle to make chances in what has been a dreadful start to the campaign.
Winning just four from 10, Arsenal are the division’s fourth-lowest goal scorers, just hitting the double figure mark in Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat to Wolves – Arsenal’s third consecutive home defeat, an unwanted milestone that has only happened once before in the club’s history.
This string of results has led to many questioning why Mikel Arteta left the playmaker out of his plans when chances are so hard to come by for his faltering Arsenal side.
Arsene Wenger’s successor Unai Emery rarely saw eye-to-eye with Ozil, demanding the elusive playmaker up his work ethic. The idea of Ozil putting in thunderous tackles and having a presence in both boxes is simply not his game.
Fellow former Arsenal midfielder and ex-Invincible Gilberto Silva has called on Arteta to utilise Ozil in a similar mould to one particular club icon if he plans to re-introduce the German in January.
Speaking to Ladbrokes, Silva said “I’d love to see him play in that Dennis Bergkamp role just off the striker. Let him be the guy who gets the ball last before passing it on to the striker. I don’t think anyone has really tried him in that role alongside, or just off, a striker.
“His situation is very tough. It’s sad to see him in the position he’s in at the moment. I’d love to see him on the pitch, helping the club. He’s got ability, he’s a World Cup winner, he’s played for big clubs. It seems like the relationship between him and the club has broken up.”
Silva did go on to call for Ozil to make a big decision ahead of the January transfer window, claiming: “This is the time for Mesut Özil to make the decision of his life. If there is no possibility for him and the club to find a way to work together, what’s the point in him staying there? I don’t think it’s helpful to anybody.
“Because he is still young, I think he can have many years in front of him playing football and being happy, but I don’t think this is a situation that you can sustain at a club for such a long time. It’s not the best way for anybody. I don’t know if I could stay in his situation for so long.
Many fans have expressed their desire to see Ozil re-integrated alongside summer signing Thomas Partey, and Gilberto has echoed similar sentiments.
He said: “If Arsenal have to play with two strong midfielders to protect him, he could easily fit in the system playing behind the striker. But this is about the manager, and I’m just expressing my opinion from the outside looking in.”
Despite Arsenal’s woeful attacking performances thus far this campaign, there is no certainty adding Ozil to the mix would solve anything. His 2019/20 statistics make for grim reading, registering just one goal and three assists all season.
Silva pondered whether Arsenal’s form would be bettered with the added influence of Czil and said: “Would Arsenal right now be a better team with him in it? It’s tough to answer. He had opportunities last season that didn’t go well for him or the team.
“But this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s about finding a way to get the best out of him. How can Arsenal use him in their favour? This is something the management has to work out. Does he still have something to offer the club?
If there is no other way where he can help the team or have an opportunity, then I believe it’s time for him to think about what can be good for him, for the rest of the season and for his future.”