Emery v Ozil: Who will reign supreme at the Emirates?

Arsenal's top earner is frozen out

We're currently witnessing a new era at the Emirates Stadium, with Unai Emery taking the reigns after Arsene Wenger's 26 year revolutionary spell drew to its conclusion back in May. This season was always going to be one of transition as the club looked to re-build following a couple of below-par campaigns and so far it's been a testing one for the Spaniard, who finds his side in fifth position in the Premier League. He has a massive job on his hands in attempting to restore the Gunners to their former glory and he's made a number of huge decisions already in his time at the club - one of which being the treatment of Mesut Ozil.

The German World Cup winner is seen by many as Arsenal's best and most technically gifted player, which earned him a lucrative new contract 12 months ago. The 30 year-old reportedly takes home around £350k a week in North London, making him their biggest earner by some distance & it's something that's really put him in the spotlight. There's no doubting his natural skill with the ball at his feet but his inability to fit in with Emery's high-pressing game has left him isolated and out the first team picture.

The longer this standstill continues the more rumours will surface so it's going to be interesting to see when/if they come to some sort of resolution. Arsenal fans seem to be split on the issue with many of them asking why Ozil isn't in the side, but if they were winning regularly it wouldn't be an issue. So just what is going on at the Emirates at the moment? Read below for more...

Overpriced Outcast?

There's no doubting that technically, Mesut Ozil is one of the best players not just in the Premier League but in Europe. The 30 year-olds natural ability with the ball at his feet is what many dream of and when he's on top form and fully at it - he is some force. But for Arsenal supporters, they're yet to really see it consistently. We've seen bursts of his obvious talent but ultimately he has gone missing in many big games for the Gunners, this is despite enjoying plenty of success with his previous club Real Madrid and of course Germany, whom he won the World Cup with in 2014.

Ozil is very much a luxury player, a no.10 and one of the best around when he's on form. For the majority of his career he's been the creative hub in a 4-2-3-1, responsible for assists and producing goal scoring opportunities, something he's done very well. But now things are changing, the departure of Arsene Wenger in May was a huge moment for Ozil and he's yet to really impress his replacement Unai Emery, who clearly doesn't fancy him. The Spaniard's arrival at the Emirates has seen a lot of things change, with one being the system. He favours a much more energetic, pressing game which requires a tremendous amount of stamina and work rate - something which Ozil isn't really known for.

Mesut Ozil
£350k p/w Ozil has started just 13 Premier League games for Arsenal this season

And so far he's been the highest profile victim of the change in strategy. He's found it difficult to break into Emery's plans at all this season which has restricted him to just 17 appearances in all competitions, which has unsurprisingly grabbed plenty of headlines. Leaving out a player of Ozil's calibre would always get people talking but the fact he's the clubs top earner by some distance really hasn't helped. Last January with the Gunners seemingly in turmoil & facing the prospect of losing both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez on free transfers, the board had to stump up an incredible amount of money to hang onto the German.

Sanchez moved onto pastures new with Manchester United and to lose Ozil alongside him would've sent the Gunners supporters into meltdown, so we can definitely see why they stumped up the cash to keep him. Sanchez leaving was the best thing that ever could've happened to the German financially, meaning that Arsenal had no choice but to stump up and meet his simply outrageous wage demands which saw his salary doubled to £350k p/w - making him the clubs record earner. But in hindsight it looks like a terrible move with the player now at the age of 30 and seemingly in decline - mainly down to his lack of playing time and injuries. After being left out of the Arsenal squad for their shock Europa League defeat to BATE Borisov on Thursday night it meant that he's missed 100 of Arsenal's 313 games since he joined for £42m - not what you want/expect from someone who is your clubs record earner.

Who will come out on top?

At any football club the managers word is final, generally. But we have seen cases were player power can overrule them and often lead to them even being sacked. Over the years at Chelsea there's always been rumours of this and recently we've seen something similar, with Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho seemingly at war at Manchester United. The Frenchmen has a huge influence at Old Trafford and he too found himself out the team after several feuds with the 56 year-old - which eventually led to him being relieved of his duties and Pogba is now back in the team & producing some fantastic performances.

It seems unlikely that this will happen at the Emirates mainly due to the fact that Emery has only been in the job since the end of May, but Arsenal supporters aren't happy with the treatment of Ozil who still remains a firm fans favourite. They have a reputation for defending their no.10 no matter what on social media and you really feel that they'd be behind Emery's continued exclusion of the German if things were working out on the pitch - but they remain as inconsistent as ever. Thursday nights embarrassing shock defeat to BATE Borisov (which Ozil was left at home for) meant that they've now been beaten in 4 of their previous 7 matches in all competitions and they've also failed to win in 7 of their last 9 on the road.

Unai Emery
Arsenal's recent slump has made Unai Emery a man under pressure

Arsenal fans aren't expecting their side to challenge for the title straight away in the post-Wenger era but they deserve a lot more, so the poor results really beg the question - why isn't Mesut Ozil getting a look-in? The majority of them are calling for him to get a chance and it's a situation that's been branded "embarrassing" by club legends such as Martin Keown in the wake of the BATE defeat. Ozil was confirmed fit for the clash so who does this come down to - a lack of motivation from the German to get in the squad or arrogance from Unai Emery?

Either way this is a very interesting situation and the way things are going at the moment we can only see one outcome - one of the pair departing. Which at the moment looks more likely to be Ozil, but the biggest stumbling block surrounding a potential transfer away from North London would be his outrageous wages, with few clubs able to shell out that kind of money on a player approaching the end of his career. When Emery was appointed last year the Arsenal board were fully behind his new vision for the club and we'd be amazed if they were to part company at the end of the season - so unless the Spaniard re-assesses his philosophy, we could very well be seeing the end of Ozil in North London.


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