It’s fair to suggest that Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career has not gone quite how he would have liked. The midfielder has struggled with injuries, a lack of form and often being played out of position during his time at Arsenal, causing the World Cup winner to show only glimpses of his undeniable class.
The German announced his return to the Arsenal setup at the weekend when he was handed a start against Chris Hughton’s Brighton side in the FA Cup. Despite the fact that Tomas Rosicky stole the headlines with a superb performance, Ozil did get on the scoresheet, calmly slotting past David Stockdale to send Arsenal into a 2-0 lead. In a game that also saw Theo Walcott fully return to action, Ozil’s encouraging performance will sit well with Arsenal.
The prospect of the German developing an understanding with Alexis Sanchez in midfield is sure to be an exciting one for Gunners fans to consider. Despite the club’s midfield boasting some of the best talent in Europe, accommodating Sanchez and Ozil into the same team could be difficult. Sanchez has been instrumental in every impressive Arsenal performance this season and he almost seems to have a free rein in midfield. If Wenger chooses to bring Ozil back into the team, he must play the former Real Madrid man in a central role. If Ozil is placed on the wing to allow Sanchez to play more centrally, Arsenal will see a different, dejected player who does not suit a wide midfield position. Ozil works best in the thick of things, often providing chance after chance for the striker. His vision is exquisite at times and although Arsenal fans have been frustrated with his performances, he needs a run of games in the right position to really be effective.
This is why Sanchez must be played out wide instead of Ozil. The Chilean is a different player, he is incredibly fast and very direct, choosing to go for goal rather than pick a pass. Although Sanchez is still very capable of providing an assist (he has seven in the Premier League already), Ozil needs to play in a central position as Sanchez has been outstanding in wide areas for both Barcelona and Arsenal.
Wenger could also opt for a rotational policy during matches which could see Ozil and Sanchez occupying different positions in the midfield across 90 minutes. There are a lot of possibilities for Wenger to look at now that Ozil has returned and the German may feel that he can comfortably produce his best football now that he is no longer in the limelight. He will undoubtedly carry a weight of expectation but the form of Alexis Sanchez means that at times, Arsenal certainly haven’t missed Ozil. Psychologically, this bodes well for the midfielder as there is not an unrelenting pressure on the German to immediately perform at the highest level.
Arsenal fans should be excited at the prospect of Ozil returning to the starting XI. His name is added to a host of excellent options in the midfield area and there is no doubt that the German will be hungry to impress. Yes, his form has often been questioned since he arrived at Arsenal. However, if he plays in his best position and escapes further injury issues, there is no denying the fact that Ozil is a world-class player who will undoubtedly produce the spectacular in the right playing environment.