In Arsenal’s last league match – a 2-1 away win over Bournemouth – Mesut Ozil was left on the bench for the entire game, leading former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell to claim that this kind of management of the German may be a good thing.
It was a surprise to see Ozil left out of the starting lineup behind the likes of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and a bigger surprise when Unai Emery opted not to give the club’s highest earner any minutes off the bench.
But, speaking to LOVE SPORT Radio, ex-Gooner Campbell has said that he feels as if the decision to omit the German was the right one.
“I think it’s smart management [to drop Ozil]. We know that sometimes when it gets really physical, people accuse Mesut Ozil of not even turning up for the game,” Campbell explained.
“It’s away, it was going to be tough so he’s used his squad the best he can, he changed the system and Mesut Ozil is there on the bench if he needs him. This manager isn’t afraid to make tough decisions.”
The decision proved justified in the end as Arsenal left the Vitality stadium with all three points following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s winner – his 20th goal for the Gunners.
Emery spoke after the Bournemouth game clarifying why he was unwilling to play the number ten. As reported on Arsenal.com, he said: “We thought how we can do better in the match, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity.”
Campbell agreed with Emery’s reasoning and said that the snub may just inspire Ozil for the upcoming north London derby, remarking: “The challenge is down right there for Mesut Ozil. I think he’ll definitely play [against Tottenham]. He’s a big-game player.
“Sometimes the mindset is more difficult against the smaller teams because playing against the big teams, that’s the one you’re motivated for. I think there’s a bit of mind games going on with the manager and I think he’s challenged Mesut Ozil, and I think Ozil will show up.”
Despite his praise of Emery, Campbell did also express his disappointment with the fact that the Spaniard was yet to play Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang as a pair up front for the Gunners this season.
“I’m a bit miffed about them not playing two up front. I would play both of them up the top of the pitch,” he complained.
“If Lacazette is fit, he plays as the focal point up front because he’s better with his back to goal. He brings people into play, he’s good at holding the ball up so Aubameyang and Ozil can get into position to receive balls and run off him.
“If Lacazette is fit, he plays but I don’t see no reason why he can’t tinker with the squad a little bit and get Aubameyang a bit closer to Lacazette because as a partnership they could be devastating.”
It remains to be seen as to what Emery will do with his team for the upcoming derby on the weekend, and if Arsenal win, it will seem as if the head coach has played his cards perfectly.