Why Emery’s bit-part use of Mesut Ozil makes perfect sense

There have been plenty of criticisms of Mesut Ozil, and most of them are justified. He’s regularly suffering from minor injuries, supposed illnesses and on several occasions this year hasn’t been fancied for the big occasion by Unai Emery. It does seem however that the playmaker’s gone some way towards repairing his reputation in the Spaniard’s eyes, having played a key role in Arsenal’s Europa League run and starting in the 4-2 win in Valencia just the other week.

Ozil earns a reported £350k a week wage, which leaves many Arsenal fans furious at his inconsistencies and apparent lacklustre attitude at times on the pitch. Emery’s use of the World Cup winner has been questioned, opting to choose the number 10 in easier home games where the Gunners are expected to have most of the possession. This has been much maligned by many avid followers and pundits alike, especially for the wage Ozil is on.

No one can rightly argue that the £350k a week is a justified wage for his overall contribution, and if he were able to deliver more in big games then perhaps the odd exclusion would be overlooked. The blunt reality though is that Arsenal are stuck with the German international. He’s an ageing player and no one in Europe will pay the money he earns. Many will rue this fact, feeling the funds could be spent far more wisely elsewhere, but is it so wrong to use him exactly the way Emery does?

In this current Premier League climate, teams around the top six are getting tougher and tougher to compete against every year. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Christian Eriksen are vital to breaking down the opposition in the final third, and Ozil is exactly this type of player. He doesn’t possess the tenacity and hunger to do it away from home or to deliver a performance for a team on the back foot, but when it comes to executing a killer first-time pass, chipping a ball to the back-post or seeing a run that others are yet to spot, there’s arguably no one better than the ex-Real Madrid man at rising to the moment.

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Ozil has, all-in-all, had a good season for Arsenal. When he’s played he’s looked creative, lively, exciting and threatening. This may simply be because Emery has selected the no.10 on occasions he knew the playmaker could deliver a strong performance. The German’s season will only be reflected on poorly because of his lack of time on the pitch along with his sky-high wage bill which many will point towards when they say they demand more.

The Gunners can’t financially afford to have a player on that kind of money who doesn’t play in their biggest games of the season. However, they also can’t afford to turn away real, genuine quality, and are certainly in need of players who are the best at what they do. Ultimately, Ozil does have the quality and ability to single-handedly get his side playing their best football, and considering Arsenal’s lack of depth in forward areas, keeping Ozil could be vital to ensuring they get the best out of their wonderful strikers and earn those tricky three points on days where it’s not quite working out. Keeping Ozil just for games against sides lower in the league really isn’t as bad as people make out.

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