Arsenal legend Paul Merson has joked the club action over Mesut Ozil could push the German into retiring early. Ozil was left at home while the Gunners travelled to Belarus for Thursday’s Europa League round-of-32 clash at BATE Borisov.
In the midfielder’s absence, Unai Emery’s side slipped to an abject 1-0 defeat, prompting calls from Merson for Arsenal to reinstate Ozil, who he believes is the best player at the club. “You play your best players and work around them,” the former Gunners midfielder told Sky Sports News. “Ozil is Arsenal’s best player and he doesn’t play, it beats me.
“He must sit at home and watch Arsenal and think ‘how am I not getting into this team?’ “I don’t know if they are trying to push him into retirement, because he must sit there and think he might as well retire if he can’t get into Arsenal team.” Ozil has started just three of Arsenal’s last 12 games in all competitions, been an unused substitute against Chelsea and Manchester City and been omitted from their matchday squad on no fewer than six occasions.
The Gunners have lost five matches during the 30-year-old’s inconsistent run in and out of the team, and Merson believes the team cannot afford to be without Ozil any longer. “Ozil is not so influential that you have to build a team around him, but he has to play because he is their best player,” he added. “He’s not going to run around and put sliding tackles in, that is never going to happen, but he makes things happen.
“Arsenal have to stick with him, they are not good enough not to have him in the team.” Meanwhile, Andrew Cole said the situation with Ozil is like a comedy sketch. Despite previously confirming he was fit to face BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday, Arsenal head coach Unai Emery left Ozil out of the travelling party, before losing 1-0 in Belarus.
Soon after the travelling squad was confirmed on Wednesday, Ozil posted a positive tweet seemingly confirming his fitness with pictures of him training with team-mates, but also tweeted his support for the club after the result on Thursday evening. Speaking on The Debate, Cole was bemused by the situation, and suggested Emery’s reluctance to play him because of his work rate should be put to one side, such is the German’s quality. It’s becoming a bit of a comedy sketch at the moment,” said Cole. “We know how talented he is.