Mesut Ozil warned about Arsenal future under Unai Emery
Former Arsenal defender Matthew Upson casts doubt on Mesut Ozil's long-term future at the north London side
Mesut Ozil will struggle to secure a place in the Arsenal team if Unai Emery persists with his 3-4-3 formation, according to Matthew Upson.
The former Germany international was left on the bench for Arsenal’s trip to Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium on Sunday evening.
Ozil didn’t even make an appearance as a substitute but Arsenal didn’t miss their best-paid player after a 2-1 victory at Bournemouth.
The 30-year-old watched on from the bench as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a second-half winner on the south coast.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi played either side of the striker, while Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka were in the middle of the park and had Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac either side of them.
Ozil was handed the captain’s armband earlier this season and the German playmaker repaid his manager’s faith with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory over Leicester City at The Emirates last term.
The World Cup winner has failed to get on the score sheet or create a goal in his last three appearances as Arsenal dropped points in stalemates with Crystal Palace, Liverpool FC and Wolves.
Former Arsenal defender Upson believes Emery will struggle to accommodate Ozil in a 3-4-3 formation given the playmaker’s most effective role is playing as a number 10.
“Arsenal’s 3-4-3 formation fitted pretty much everyone who was in their team on Sunday – but the one person it might not suit is Ozil, who was an unused substitute at the Vitality Stadium,” Upson told BBC Sport.
“Ozil is Arsenal’s best number 10, but there is no number 10 when you play in this shape. The question is whether Emery is willing to play him elsewhere in his midfield.
When Emery was asked why Ozil did not play against Bournemouth, he said it was because he was expecting ‘a very demanding match with physicality and intensity’.
“But it was not down to Ozil being tired – he is not being considered for selection by Germany so he has not played since the draw with Wolves on 11 November.”
Upson added: “So, I would not be happy if I were Ozil. It’s a big statement for your manager to say that an experienced player like him is not up to playing in a match like this one.
“Only the line-up for Sunday’s game against Spurs will tell us exactly what Emery is thinking, and where Ozil fits into that, but it is not a surprise to see any Arsenal player omitted these days.
“We are only four months into his first season in charge at the Emirates, but Emery has already made it clear he is not afraid to make those kind of decisions around his big players.
“That in itself is very different to the way his predecessor Arsene Wenger approached things.
“Wenger was more likely to stick to his favoured style, regardless of who Arsenal were playing, and he certainly was not one to drop players like Ozil in situations like this.”
Ozil signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal in February 2018 to make him one of the best paid players in the club’s history.