Is Mesut Ozil struggling to fit into Unai Emery's Arsenal side?
By Joe Harker
After Arsenal thrashed Fulham 5-1 former player turned pundit Martin Keown suggested that the team hadn't missed star playmaker Mesut Ozil. Braces from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coupled with an incredible team goal finished off by Aaron Ramsey to notch the Gunners their ninth straight win in a row.
Ramsey looks set to leave Arsenal after contract negotiations broke down. It has been reported that the Welsh midfielder wanted a significant pay rise to reflect his importance to the team. Ozil was given a huge new contract back in January and Ramsey believes he deserves more money as a result.
Speaking after the win against Fulham, Keown suggested that the disparity between earnings could be what made Ramsey want more money. He said: "He might be looking at what other people are earning.
"Mesut Ozil is not even there today but you couldn't say he was missed but he's set the tone on what the salary is and maybe Ramsey is looking to get somewhere near his money."
Other former players have also lamented the possibility of Ramsey leaving and wondered whether Arsenal really should have offered Ozil a new contract. Ray Parlour suggested the Gunners might "regret" giving Ozil a deal worth £350,000 a week. The playmaker turns 30 next week, will he still be worth his wages in 2021?
The prospect of another club offering Ozil similar wages is also rather slim. Short of a ridiculous offer from China the chances of a top club being willing to spend millions on a transfer fee are small. Arsenal will likely have to try and get him to fit into the team, otherwise they are throwing money at a talented benchwarmer.
Under new manager Unai Emery he may still have the chance to make himself the star man for Arsenal. Daily Mirror writer Andy Dunn believes the German can be a game changer and suggested that under Emery's coaching he can grow from the player who used to be blamed for everything at the Emirates.
However, Jack Pitt-Brooke of The Independent suggested that Arsenal looked most like an Unai Emery team without Ozil on the pitch. The manager has surely been brought in to put his stamp on the Gunners and if Ozil doesn't fit that team then his place in it should be under consideration.
As talented as he is, if he doesn't fit into their team then trying to shoehorn him in elsewhere is probably not the best idea. Emery needs to be able to build Arsenal the way he sees fit. If Ozil is part of that then all is well. Otherwise, he may have to get used to awkwardly playing out of position.