Following the 3-0 win over BATE Borisov on Thursday night, which saw Arsenal progress into the Europa League last 16, Alex Iwobi was quizzed on what the out-of-favour Mesut Ozil brings to the side.
The game against the Belarus-based side was only the second time the German playmaker had started in 2019, and was the first time he had completed 90 minutes since December.
There seems to be somewhat of a rift going on between Ozil and Gunners boss Unai Emery, but Iwobi’s latest comments suggest that some of the players are on the former Real Madrid star’s side – or at the very least, aren’t fully backing their manager over the midfielder’s regular exclusion.
The Nigerian international said: “We know what Mesut is like because we see him in training every day.
“He’s world class. We scored three goals as a result of him playing. I know if I make a run he has the vision to find me. Hopefully he can keep on playing.”
Well, for a start, the fact that Iwobi credits his side’s goals to Ozil and not to the management and tactics of Emery speaks volumes alone.
Arsenal have won four and lost four of their last eight games across all competitions, struggling for form and looking devoid of any attacking identity or creativity in Ozil’s absence.
If Iwobi is feeling this way, the chances are a few more Arsenal players share the same opinion. Whilst the Gunners don’t seem like the sort of club to have the players capable of a dressing room revolt, such as we’ve seen Chelsea do in the past, the situation could worsen unless Emery finds a speedy solution.
The former Paris Saint-Germain boss has told Ozil that he ‘needs to be consistent in training and for matches, without injury or being sick’, implying that the 30-year-old’s Arsenal future is in his own hands and that he must be more professional.
However, the fact that Iwobi said ‘hopefully he (Ozil) can keep playing’ suggests that the squad feel the decision lies with Emery, and that Ozil should be more involved in the first-team right now. Iwobi, at least, appears a little bemused that the German playmaker isn’t taking a starring role at the moment.