Arsenal better without Ozil?

Are the Gunners better without their star number 10?

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Are Arsenal better without Ozil?

By Joe Harker

Arsenal face a future without long running manager Arsene Wenger and his replacement will have to decide what their best team looks like.

The club has an enviable roster of attacking players but it would be a conundrum to have them all playing together.

Two excellent strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette may not be able to start in their preferred roles together, while number 10's Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are in a similar situation though the latter can play on the wing. The four of them have not yet played together and someone will probably have to be out of the starting XI.

That someone might be Ozil, the main creative force of Arsenal though much-maligned due to appearing uninterested or ineffectual in big games. He signed a new contract in January to make him Arsenal's highest paid player and avoid the prospect of him leaving on a free transfer but that might not prevent him from leaving.

Former Gunners defender turned pundit Martin Keown has been a regular critic of Ozil and recently predicted that the playmaker picks and chooses which matches he appears in, saying he wouldn't appear again for the club this season. He said: "I bet he doesn't play again this season.

"He will have some emotional breakdown and won't be able to play at the weekend."

Ozil appeared in the Europa League games but didn't even make the Premier League squads and the club have said he has a back injury that will put him out for the rest of the season, though he is expected to recover in time for the World Cup. However, there are still questions over his playing time as he has appeared in only six Premier League games since signing his new contract.

The scintillating 5-0 victory against Burnley has some fans wondering if Ozil is the odd man out in Arsenal's attack. He is regularly criticised for his attitude and the strong performance of the Gunners other forwards in his absence could reflect badly on him.

There are also reports that the Arsenal dressing room are unhappy with his "prima donna attitude" as they doubt he is really injured.

When he plays well he is one of the best creative players in football, capable of conjuring up moments of magic that stun fans and carve open opponents. However, he is regularly missing in important games and criticised for a lack of effort. The decision of what to do with him lies with the next manager.

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Are Arsenal better off without Ozil?

Addressing the question of whether Arsenal are better off without Mesut Ozil can be a dangerous business.

Criticism of the playmaker can bring howls of dissent on social media from a strident section of Arsenal supporters. Querying his contribution will generate accusations of not understanding the game. Never mind his unassuming body language: feel the quality and quantity of his assists and chance creation. Chasing back, pressing opponents? That would be a waste of his genius. Such arguments have their merits and Ozil's stats suggest that he is a player of supreme effectiveness.

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