Why Unai Emery must unleash Mesut Ozil at Arsenal
The Arsenal job hasn't been a bed of roses for Unai Emery. I'm sure he was aware of that before he came in. After just two games, he oversaw the club's worst ever Premier League start; losing two and conceding five.
However, we should have seen that coming. Emery's debut was against the record-breaking defending Champions, Manchester City, where the Gunners lost 2-0. Considering the fact that City are the best in the country, playing arguably the greatest football the Premier League has ever seen, a loss was always to be expected. Let's be honest, last season's showings were an awful lot worse than this one.
Emery's warriors then showed pure guts against Chelsea, by fighting back from a 2-goal deficit before half-time. Chelsea pulled the winner towards the end of the game but they were made to sweat before all three points were theirs. A change in attitude has already begun.
Arsenal has now shown the fighting spirit that was missing for years. They know they can now go toe-to-toe with pretty much anyone. However, securing victories is most important. That has to start happening. Soon. What the essence of a tough fight and later losing? Emery needs to add a winning mentality to his side to make them competitive. Not only against small sides but against the bigger ones, too. Changing that mantra isn't going to be easy.
Take a look at Emery's squad, even after five summer signings, they aren't yet as strong as Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool. However, Arsenal's attack isn't one to write off. The strike force of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can send fear jotting down the spine of opponents; only if the manager builds his team around this potent attack.
Mesut Ozil is the biggest superstar at the Emirates and that's why he gets the stick after a sub-par result by the team. Arsenal fans and football pundits usually shower blame on the ex-Germany international, most especially because of his non-involvement in defensive duties and physical parts of the game. Ozil is nowhere to be found when it comes to tracking back, throwing himself into tackles or doing dirty jobs. Well, a change of mind is advisable for those that expect all these from him. Check his look, it's not as strict as that of Chelsea's N'Golo Kante or United's Paul Pogba. Ozil must now be accepted for who he is. Instead of the blame, why not appreciate his beautiful side?
Ozil's creativity can match the very best, giving Emery a vital weapon he can rely on. He has an eye for a pass only a few can rival, while setting the tone for attacking in a blink of an eye. With one single hit on the ball, the opponent's defence can be left scattered and open for goals. He is a player any team should be proud of having.
To get the beast in Ozil up and running, the partnership of Aubameyang and Lacazette is needed. This will give room for the utmost utilisation of Ozil's quality. If Aubameyang misses, Lacazette will be there to pick it up. Emery can switch to a 4-2-1-3 system where the lone man is Ozil as a free role. Since he hasn't been contributing to defensive duties, the team should no longer request that from him and let him concentrate on his new role; which is feeding Lacazette and Aubameyang upfront.
Most strikers become stingy because they prefer going for personal glory and scoring goals. Among the very few that love to assist goals and play for the badge on their chest, Ozil stands out. Emery has a massive weapon in Ozil, he must wield it.