Arsenal star, Mesut Ozil, is considered to be one of the most creative minds in football. Yet, he can’t seem to find a way to break into Unai Emery’s first-choice XI. 


Mesut Ozil has now started only one of the Gunners’ last 10 outings and wasn’t even on the bench for Thursday night’s embarrassing 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie.

Mesut Ozil, 30, has had a roller coaster of a career at Arsenal. Moving from Real Madrid in 2013, the German slid right into Arsene Wenger’s first team, and deservedly so. His quick decision making, vision, and passing range opened up new avenues at Arsenal, and the fans just couldn’t get enough.

Under Arsene Wenger, Ozil got the freedom to express himself, his lazy brilliance. He glided between the defensive lines, placing inch-perfect passes, and reminded time and again why he deserved to be the most expensive German player in history. However, even during the Frenchman’s reign, he struggled from time to time. But his creativity and brilliance eventually came out on top, always.

Wenger’s keen eye and love towards Ozil’s intricacy, helped the former Werder Bremen man flourish. Between 2013 and 2018, Ozil played 196 games across all competitions, registering 37 goals and 71 assists.

Wenger’s successor, Unai Emery, has brought in a new philosophy. He wants his players to run tirelessly and effortlessly for the entire 90 minutes, suffocating the opposition, forcing them to make a bad call or two. Ozil, as we all know, is not the player that Emery wants. The former Real Madrid playmaker runs only when he desperately needs, not just to put pressure on the opposition. He also doesn’t track back as his coach wants him to and often loses his marker.

So, technically, Arsenal should be well off without such a player. But in reality, they need him more than they care to admit. Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi all are exceptionally capable players but aren’t even half as creative as the German. They can run, defend, hassle players out of possession, but they can’t unlock stubborn defences, not even if their life depended on it.

Also Read: Mou explained how to find balance with Ozil

BATE Borisov aren’t the most decorated team, but even the Belarusians knew how to get the better of the Londoners. They just sat back, surrendered the ball to the Gunners, and invited them to come at them. Emery’s side tried their best to play between the lines but didn’t have an architect amongst them. So, instead of penetrating through the middle, they tried crossing from all angles, hoping to get lucky. BATE, the physically superior of the two, dealt with the balls rather effortlessly and eventually cruised to a famous win against the Premier League giants.

Yes, Ozil has his flaws. He isn’t the most attentive, not the most driven. But the player has something that none of Emery’s hard-working midfielders does — the ability to bring even the most stubborn of defenses to its knees. Integrating a dedicated number 10 will be a challenge for Unai Emery, but if Arsenal are to qualify for the Champions League next season, the former Paris Saint-German boss must solve this puzzle as soon as possible.

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