Why Outcast Ozil Deserves Another Chance at Arsenal Under Unai Emery

​When a new manager enters the dugout it can often result in contrasting fortunes for the players involved.

In some cases, a man once overlooked by the previous regime is handed an opportunity to reignite their career. In other cases, a player once heralded as one of the most naturally gifted among the squad is cast aside like dirty laundry.

​Mesut Ozil falls undeniably into the latter category.

Mesut Ozil

This kind of treatment is not something players and fans alike are new to. Take Jose Mourinho’s dealing with Juan Mata, for example. Winning ​Chelsea’s Player of the Season two years running did little to affect Mourinho’s thinking, as he opted to play Oscar in the number ten role when he returned to Stamford Bridge to retake the reins. 

The reasons behind the Portuguese’s decision stemmed from a perceived lack defensive work rate from the Spaniard. Ultimately, his final season at Stamford Bridge went out with a whimper, and he departed for Old Trafford.

Avert your gaze to the northern reaches of the capital and what is taking place at the Emirates is a situation that bears a striking resemblance.

Emery’s first season at the club saw the German’s playing time dwindle rapidly as he made just 24 league outings – often in home clashes against the so-called ‘lesser’ teams – as his stranglehold on the creative slot in the side faded at an alarming rate.

Just five goals and two assists were the fruits of his Emirates labour, with rumours circulating throughout the summer that Emery was trying desperately to ship the £350k-per-week playmaker off to whichever bidder was willing to stump up (some of) his wages.

Unai Emery,Mesut Ozil

However, no suitors were forthcoming and instead Ozil was left to remain with the club he had no intention of leaving anyway. 

So, clean slate, right?

Firstly, the dreadful and terrifying incident involving Ozil and Sead Kolasinac where they were subject of an attempted robbery occurred. Fortunately, they both emerged physically unscathed, but the mental scars understandably took time to heal.

Following the culmination of those events, Kolasinac found himself back in the side while Ozil…well, was nowhere to be seen. He made the bench for the ​Tottenham match before his only league start of the season against a beleaguered Watford side.

That s**t-show was a performance of catastrophic team organisation. Cruising in a first-half in which Ozil was on par with his teammates, the second half collapse was laughable. Yet, to point the finger at Ozil for the shambles on show is a damning assessment of a squad where the two most culpable players – ​David Luiz and Sokratis – were awarded with starting berths in the following league match.

Since then, Ozil has been shunned. Frozen out. Cast aside. Hung out to dry.

Arsenal currently sit third in the ​Premier League table – somehow just one point shy of Man City – without playing anywhere near the levels fans are expecting.

However, the defensive frailties remain (not Ozil’s fault) and the bizarrely defensive midfield trio the manager is adamant on selecting are failing to excite in the final third (not Ozil’s fault).

Look, every manager has their own philosophy, their way of playing and certain traits in certain stars that appeal to them enough to choose them over other players. That’s fine, its totally understandable, its their team, after all.

But when you look at the ​Manchester United game where the Gunners were crying out for a player in the final third who could have provided the killer ball, or even just one moment of brilliance, Ozil was nowhere to be seen. Not even on the bench.

Now, I’m not saying that the German is some kind of messiah, far from it, but Emery’s insistence of not even giving him a chance to prove his worth from the bench is a disrespectful ploy, and an opportunity gone begging when matches have come round this season that have been screaming for that added dash of guile in the final third.


Emery recently spoke of his decision to omit him from the squad to face Standard Liege, saying: “When I decided he shouldn’t be in the squad it’s because I think other players deserved it more.”

That, in itself, answers the question rather comprehensively. The likes of Bukayo Saka are more deserving of a place in the side than Ozil at present. True. Furthermore, if you ask the ​Arsenal fans who they’d rather having playing in the ten role, you’ll find few who would put the 30-year-old in above either Dani Ceballos or Joe Willock.

And yes, in fairness to Emery, we don’t know whether he’s giving only 50% in training and looks rustier than the Titanic’s cutlery drawers. But how will anyone know? How will he be able to prove that unless he’s given a fair roll of the dice. And no, that doesn’t include a 70-minute run out against Nottingham Forest.


When you’ve got a £43m attacking midfielder who has created more chances for teammates at the club during Unai Emery’s tenure than any other player (46), it begs the question, why not let him prove himself in the league?

A divisive figure among the fanbase, Ozil’s contribution to Arsenal is one of constant debate. It speak volumes, however, that when the vast majority of the supporters are finding the treatment of him ‘disgraceful’ and ‘a f*****g joke’. 

There is clearly some kind of agenda on Emery’s behalf that doesn’t sit well among the Gunners’ faithful. He’s cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Mesut Ozil

Arsenal aren’t wallowing dangerously low in the table, nor are they a million miles away from returning to their best. All that is being asked is for a player possessing undoubted quality to prove his worth. Indeed, those flashes are deemed far too infrequent, but how can the fans know how frequent they will be if he isn’t allowed a fair crack of the whip?

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!


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