Ozil faces fight for Arsenal place
Mesut Ozil has returned to training for Arsenal after a disrupted start to the season but it remains to be seen as to how big a role he will play going forward.
The former Germany international was unavailable to face Newcastle on the opening day of the season due to “further security incidents” after being the victim of an attempted carjacking alongside team-mate Sead Kolasinac last month.
Ozil then missed Saturday’s win over Burnley due to illness but is back on the training pitch ahead of this weekend’s trip to Liverpool.
The attacking midfielder has been with Arsenal for six years but in recent seasons he has struggled to make an impact on a consistent basis, and now his place in the team is under serious threat.
The Gunners moved to bring in Dani Ceballos from Ozil’s former club Real Madrid during the summer and after a 27 minute cameo in the opening round win at Newcastle he was handed a start against the Clarets.
Ceballos made a huge impression as he provided the assists for both Arsenal goals in that 2-1 success and he looked a constant threat in midfield.
Manager Unai Emery is almost certain to stick with Ceballos in his starting XI at Anfield and that could well see Ozil miss out this weekend.
Record-buy Nicolas Pepe could be handed a start, but Emery will want to keep his side balanced against the Reds to attempt to handle Liverpool’s attacking threat, so if Ozil does make the match day squad he may well have to settle for a place on the bench.
With cup games and European games on the horizon for Arsenal Ozil will get his chance in the weeks and months ahead but for now he will have to bide his time, unless injuries hand him an earlier opportunity.
It looks as if Ozil’s days at the Emirates Stadium are numbered but it is hard to completely write off a player with his undoubted ability.
That said, it is fair to say he simply hasn’t produced his best on a consistent basis during his time with Arsenal so far and the captures of Ceballos and Pepe – and Emery insistence on using Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a wide role Ozil could have occupied – makes it tough to see a route back into the starting side for the former Werder Bremen man.
There has been speculation Ozil could head to MLS in the January transfer window and if he doesn’t manage to force his way back into Emery’s plans a move to America could well be on the cards for the 30-year-old.