Unai Emery: Mesut Ozil Can 'Play How I Want,' but Arsenal Team 'Competitive'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mesut Ozil of Arsenal is substituted as Unai Emery manager of Arsenal looks on during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal boss Unai Emery believes Mesut Ozil is capable of performing under his management, but he said the German is not guaranteed a place in what is a "competitive" Gunners squad.

Ozil's position at Arsenal has come in for scrutiny this week. The Gunners have played two games—against Manchester United on Monday and Standard Liege on Thursday—and the playmaker hasn't been included in the matchday squad for either encounter.

Ahead of the team's clash with Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday, Emery said he thinks Ozil can function in his coaching blueprint, although he added there is significant depth in this portion of the squad, per Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Mail:

"He can play how I want, but now we have a lot of players being competitive in each position on the pitch, and they deserve to be able to help and to play.

"Now every player is the same and I want to train, I want them to be pushing to achieve one position in the squad, in the first XI. If we continue being competitive and getting better, it is the best for our present and future."

Earlier in the week, Emery offered a blunt assessment when quizzed on why Ozil was left out of the UEFA Europa League match with Standard:

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

"I think other players deserve it more." 👊 Unai Emery says others deserved a place in Arsenal’s Europa League squad for the game against Standard Liege more than Mesut Ozil: https://t.co/a0NXOGdpFF https://t.co/jyHynGN8xQ

According to Kajumba, the Gunners now want to get Ozil off their books, as he is clearly down the pecking order and earning a weekly wage of £350,000. It's said the club are hoping to ship him out on loan when the January transfer window opens.

Ozil has always been a conundrum since moving to Arsenal in 2013, but it's difficult to remember a time when his stock has been lower at the club in a footballing sense. 

Nick Ames of the Guardian said he has been left confused by Emery's management of the 30-year-old:

Nick Ames @NickAmes82

Ozil might quickly become the hill Emery lives or dies on. Start him in PL; rest him from EL to keep him fresh for PL; drop him from PL and make him skipper for Carabao; drop him for PL again. Just doesn't add up at all.

When he's in form, Ozil can be an asset to almost any team. The German has a natural elegance on the ball and spots passes on the pitch that few other players would be able to see.

However, what he brings in creativity he often lacks in application and tactical awareness. While it's not entirely clear what style of football Emery is seeking to implement at Arsenal, he's certainly sought to make the team more robust, and that doesn't align with Ozil's natural attributes.

Sports writer Jonny Singer suggested there may be non-football reasons behind the players absence:

Jonny Singer @Jonny_Singer

With absolutely no knowledge, my instinct is that there is something ‘going on’ with Ozil. Because otherwise it’s just such incompetence that even emery can’t be, surely https://t.co/BRP1DXsI3a

Arsenal have strengthened their attacking midfield options with the summer signing of Dani Ceballos, while youngsters Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson also look ready to make an impression in support of a centre-forward.

They all appear to be ahead of Ozil in the pecking order. With that in mind, it feels like the former Real Madrid man's time in north London may be inching towards a close.