Arsenal claimed their most important win yet of this season as they emerged 4-2 victors over north London rivals Spurs on Sunday – fans were surely raving about the fighting spirit and combative mentality which their side adopted but, while he remained a point of discussion before kick-off as a back spasm kept him out of the match-day squad, few would have had any mention of Mesut Ozil, the man who is usually the forefront of Gunners discussion.
The midfielder was previously excluded from his side’s clash with Bournemouth as Unai Emery opted for a 3-4-3 formation and the Spaniard hinted that his number 10 was not up to the physically demanding nature of the tie.
As Emery’s side ran out 2-1 winners after coming back from behind at the Vitality there were few complaints about his decision to leave out his chief playmaker and, considering that a similarly physical approach achieved the results on Sunday, there seems to be an argument that the Gunners are better off without the player who has been their poster boy since Arsene Wenger brought him to the Emirates in 2013.
The togetherness and willingness to run and battle for one another which Arsenal displayed at the weekend is something that they have been lacking for a decade and Lucas Torreira’s performance, in particular, epitomised the philosophy and attitude that Emery is trying to instil within his squad as he looks to take the north London side into a new era.
While Ozil is capable of single-handedly winning a game for any side, a dice is thrown by starting him as one never knows which version of the German will be on show – the one who can be a world-class conduit for creation, or the one who sulks and strops until he gets substituted.
Bearing in mind that the former Real Madrid man is Arsenal’s highest paid player – he hauls in a handsome £300k-a-week – it seems an expensive gamble to be making week after week, especially as his astronomical wages have proven to be a point of frustration for others in the dressing room.
Aaron Ramsey looks set to leave the Emirates in the summer after a tabled contract offer, which would have surely put him on similar terms to Ozil, was withdrawn with his current deal winding down. After the Welshman was instrumental off the bench last time out, the question begs as to whether the decision to let him leave while keeping one of the Premier League’s most infuriating individuals was the wrong one to make.
Ozil threatens to follow the same destructive path as Alexis Sanchez but, unlike the Chilean, will not have to leave the three-time Premier League winners to begin his descent into doom.
Sanchez is the league’s highest earner as he rakes in an astonishing £500k-a-week at Manchester United, but he rarely stars for the Old Trafford outfit and is becoming a victim of the surrounding toxicity – the Red Devils sit eighth in the standings and there doesn’t seem to be a single happy face in the camp.
Marcus Rashford and co should surely feel incensed by the fact that Sanchez is being paid such ridiculous wages when they are higher up the pecking order than he – this is the protest that Arsenal faces if the club keeps bowing to Ozil’s every need.
The Emirates outfit were finally able to part with Wenger after 22 years with the Frenchman at the helm and, if they want to maintain the calibre of performance and tight-knit collective that Emery is building then perhaps Ozil should be the next big name out the door.
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