Some Arsenal fans initially backed Mikel Arteta after he axed Mesut Ozil from the squad but a poor start to the season now has many supporters questioning the manager’s decision.
Ozil has not featured for Arsenal yet this season and hasn’t made a first-team appearance since the 1-0 Premier League victory over West Ham way back in early March before football was suspended due to the pandemic. There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Arteta’s decision to freeze the German superstar out of the first-team set-up but many feel it’s not a coincidence Ozil hasn’t played since refusing to accept a pay cut during the summer.
With football clubs under financial pressure due to the impact of the pandemic, every Arsenal player accepted a 12.5% pay cut except Ozil. The former Real Madrid attacker reportedly refused on the grounds he wanted to know how the money would be spent. Ozil will point to the fact that over 50 employees were sacked by Arsenal shortly after the players took the pay cut to say he was right not to accept. But most felt it was a selfish decision and backed Arteta’s move to axe him from the squad.
However, fans are now turning on their manager following a disappointing start to the season. Just four wins from their opening 10 league games has left Arsenal down in 14th position in the table but the most concerning factor is how toothless they look. The Gunners have scored just 10 Premier League goals and have found the net just twice in their last six outings.
The lack of creativity has led to increased calls for Ozil to be recalled because if Arsenal don’t start to find their threat going forward, they can kiss European football goodbye next season. They scrapped into the Europa League through the back door last year after winning the FA Cup and bookmakers are backing Arsenal to miss out on a top-six finish once again this campaign.
The latest odds have Arsenal priced as the 11/8 seventh favourites to finish in the top six with Everton and Wolves close behind. You certainly wouldn’t bet on the Gunners right now unless you had a sports betting welcome bonus to use. If it was a free bet you might take a chance on Arsenal rediscovering their form to snatch a European place but I wouldn’t be staking my hard-earned money at this point.
Ozil’s reintroduction to the team could be the catalyst Arsenal need to get their season going. They’re crying out for some creativity going forward and the German could be just the answer. It’s easy to forget he’s been one of the best playmakers in the game over the past decade so it seems a waste to leave him at home while the team is in desperate need of his creativity.
Unless Arteta can find another solution to this problem quickly, his decision to axe Ozil could ultimately cost him his job if Arsenal fail to qualify for Europe next season as the club cannot afford to go without at least Europa League football.