Cold shoul­der for star

Oezil frozen out of Arse­nal team by dis­ci­plinar­ian Emery.

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Lon­don

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

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

ME­SUT OEZIL

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