Arsenal legend Paul Merson insists Mikel Arteta should bring back outcast Mesut Ozil now that he has Thomas Partey to protect him in midfield… with £45m new boy allowing playmaker to ‘provide the forwards’
Paul Merson believes the protection of Thomas Partey in the Arsenal midfield would allow £350,000-per-week outcast Mesut Ozil to flourish.
Ozil, the club’s highest-paid player, has been axed from Mikel Arteta’s Premier League and Europa League squads and his days at Arsenal appear numbered having not featured since March.
Arteta has been firm in his stance over the German playmaker’s exclusion but the Gunners are currently crying out for creativity in midfield – having scored just 10 goals in 10 Premier League matches.
Mesut Ozil’s days at Arsenal look numbered after he was axed from Mikel Arteta’s squads
And Arsenal legend Merson insists Ozil should be brought back into the starting XI when Partey plays so that he can provide chances for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co, who have massively struggled to impact matches recently.
Merson told Sky Sports: ‘For me, Mesut Ozil comes back in the team if Thomas Partey is fit. Partey gets around the pitch, dominates the midfield and dictates the game. Him playing opens up a chance for Ozil.
‘At the moment, Arsenal have nobody in there to provide the forwards. You can make runs all day long, but if you’re a centre forward, your runs are only as good as the players playing behind you.
‘When these Arsenal players are getting the ball in midfield, with time, is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang making the run? Is he confident they are going to see his run and are capable of getting that ball through the eye of a needle?
Paul Merson believes Ozil could flourish with Thomas Partey protecting him in midfield
Merson insists that Arsenal are crying out for creativity in the middle of the pitch
‘I’d say no, so they need creativity. Fernando Torres made runs when Steven Gerrard got the ball. They didn’t even have to look.
‘Teams are sitting back against Arsenal, and they don’t have the creativity in midfield to break them down.
‘If Partey doesn’t play, Ozil can’t play. Without Partey, Arsenal are not going to dictate the midfield, and then can’t afford to play with 10 men. But if Arsenal have the midfield, and Ozil is playing behind Aubameyang, with two flying wingers. You ask the back four to stay still, including the full backs.’
Merson went on to reveal who he would play alongside Ozil and Partey in midfield to get Arsenal firing on all cylinders up front again.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co are feeding off scraps with a lack of creativity behind
Merson, who won two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Arsenal in 263 appearances for the club, believes Granit Xhaka should hold the fort with Partey in behind Ozil.
Merson added with that protection behind him, Ozil would therefore be free to create for the forwards, with Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe thriving off the wings and Aubameyang playing centrally.
The Gunners’ tally of just 10 goals in as many matches is hugely alarming for Arteta – with only the bottom three sides in the Premier League holding worse records.
Sunday’s 2-1 defeat against Wolves consigned Arsenal to their fifth defeat of the season already – signalling the club’s worst start to a league campaign since 1981.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side have already lost five of their 10 Premier League games this season