Cold shoulder for star
Oezil frozen out of Arsenal team by disciplinarian Emery.
Mesut Oezil has missed Arsenal’s last four matches and may be absent again when the Gunners host Huddersfield Town today.
The 30-year-old playmaker is being treated for a back problem and manager Unai Emery has hinted he could be passed fit if he comes through sessions with the club’s physiotherapist unscathed.
The German had been on the training ground on Thursday “running and touching the ball”, Emery told a press conference.
But even if Oezil is given the nod to return there are no guarantees Emery will pick his highest earner, even for the bench.
That despite being a World Cup winner in 2014, and a player with skills few others can reproduce.
Emery, it seems, had already decided he could do without the former German international in his comprehensive overhaul of a squad that had forgotten how to win trophies under previous manager Arsene Wenger.
Oezil’s omission from the starting line-up at Bournemouth on November 25 was the big revelation to a world that could not fail to notice.
Emery’s explanation could hardly be misinterpreted either: Oezil was named on the bench – and left there for the entire game – at Bournemouth because his manager felt he could not deal with the “physicality and intensity” of the Gunners’ opponents.
Few failed to notice at the time that the reason for his omission carried little weight as Bournemouth are one of the least aggressive in the Premier League.
His absence mattered little as the Gunners’ unbeaten run simply carried on without him.
The Gunners can take that to 21 matches against the Terriers with Oezil’s return to the side likely to be delayed till they play Qarabag in the Europa League next week.
Wenger, in his final season, used the competition to keep fresh fringe men he had decided not to employ in the Premier League even though three of them – England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere plus Olivier Giroud of France – were internationals of experience and reputation.
Oezil is not the only worldclass player to suddenly find themselves unable to get into the starting sides, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and ex-Gunner Alexis Sanchez falling foul of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Oezil’s post-World Cup fallout with Germany cannot have helped, coming at a time when every Arsenal player knew he had to impress the new man after years of inertia under Wenger.
The player felt he was the victim of racism and disrespect because of his Turkish roots, claiming “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose”.
Such sentiments were no doubt genuine but Emery appears to care about one issue only: whether a player can thrive under his system.
The answer to that, at the moment at least, appears to be no for Mesut Oezil. – AFP