OZIL MIGHT HAVE TO FIGHT FOR HIS PLACE IN ARSENAL FROM NOW ON
Mesut Ozil isn’t used to being substituted at Arsenal — especially not in the big games like Chelsea vs Arsenal — but these are changing times at the Premier League club, where there is a new manager, a new style of play and new demands.
For so long one of the main men at Emirates Stadium, Ozil now might have to fight for his place in the team.
And about time, too, some would say.
Few players in the Premier League divide opinion as much as the 29-year-old playmaker, whose languid, often-unhurried approach can be so pleasing to the eye but also makes him a target of critics questioning his commitment.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was prepared to indulge in Ozil’s mercurial nature, saying the midfielder was misunderstood and could do things with the ball most others couldn’t. Even if it appeared to contrast starkly in the face of what many were seeing on the field.
Unai Emery, Wenger’s replacement, might be different.
Arsenal was tied 2-2 with Chelsea with 22 minutes to go in an exciting, end-to-end Premier League match on Saturday when Emery decided to remove Ozil and replace him with Aaron Ramsey.
What was telling was the reason Emery gave after the game, which Arsenal went on to lose 3-2.
“He works well,” Emery said, “but we needed to keep more pressing on the pitch.”
Emery is attempting to evolve Arsenal’s play, adding energy and pressing to the passing and highly technical approach pursued by Wenger in his 22 years in charge of the London club. Ozil, it appears, is going to have to change his ways to fit into a style that doesn’t come naturally to him.
In some aspects, it’s a blank canvas under Emery. There’s a new center-back partnership and a remodeled and youthful central midfield, while 36-year-old goalkeeper Petr Cech is being asked to use his feet more to instigate attacks — something he’s never had to do before in his long, distinguished career.
Mesut on his day remains a weapon in attack but it appears his good days are now very Few and Far between,