Mesut Ozil has divided opinion in English football for a number of seasons as Arsenal have perpetually displayed the same failings but for most of that time, his standing in Germany has been unaffected.
Since the World Cup in 2010, Ozil has been an integral part of Joachim Low’s plans in a squad that has racked up three major tournament semi-finals and of course lifted the global prize in Brazil four years ago.
Much of that has served as a riposte to the naysayers; the argument goes that Ozil does plenty that is not noticed for Arsenal and in a superior team from a country that actually understands the game, he flourishes.
However, for Germany’s must-win second Group F match against Sweden, Ozil was dropped and it just about paid dividends as they secured a last-gasp 2-1 victory as the Arsenal playmaker remained on the bench.
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With Low losing faith in Ozil after eight years of loyalty, it begs the question for new Arsenal boss Unai Emery – how do you get the best out of him? Football FanCast have taken a closer look at some of the potential solutions…
Emery apparently prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will serve to bolster the central area of the pitch and provide a greater degree of protection to the Gunners’ shaky backline.
Within that system, there will be hot competition for the number 10 spot. Aaron Ramsey lacks the defensive discipline and passing quality to sit as part of the two and will want to be given licence to burst forward.
January signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan will also have designs on being the central playmaker, so allowing Ozil to drift left could provide a compromise that gives him space and beefs up Emery’s central area.
The downside is Ozil’s unwillingness to track a full-back up and down the flank all day long but two holding players and the more conservative style of Nacho Monreal may serve to mitigate that somewhat.
In the latter stages of Wenger’s reign, limited destroyers such as Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin were fielded as part of a two-man defensive midfield axis with Ozil charged with providing the creativity just ahead.
If Arsenal get their reported deal for 22-year-old Lucas Torreira over the line, he and Granit Xhaka may form a more dynamic, technical duo and provide a greater platform for the German to go forward and create.
If Ozil is going to play centrally, Emery must ensure that his other two central midfielders are good enough to cope with sometimes being exposed by his propensity to drift into different positions.
That is currently not the case but Torreira’s World Cup performance against Russia showed that he may well be an upgrade.
Despite Emery’s preference for 4-2-3-1, he may well choose to stick with the technical 4-3-3 Wenger liked and if he does, he can take inspiration from Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking, title-winning Manchester City revolution.
Guardiola inherited two elite number tens in Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva and converted them to technical ‘false eights’, attacking midfielders who begin from deep but dominate the game, bursting forwards to offer assists and goals.
Ozil has the required technical quality and if he added the discipline, this could prove a handy way to get him, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan into the same midfield at the Emirates.
Emery is a completely different style of manager to Guardiola so it is unlikely, but if Ozil enviously watched de Bruyne dominate the division last season, he may feel it is a worthwhile switch himself.