Gary Lineker has slammed Arsenal for their decision to exile Mesut Ozil this season after the Gunners suffered yet another poor result, losing 4-1 to Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup. Ozil was left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads at the start of the season by manager Mikel Arteta and, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season, it appears as though his time at the Emirates is over.
However, with Arsenal languishing 15th in the league table and just four points off the relegation zone, there have been calls for Ozil to return to the squad in January.
Creativity has been a major issue for Arsenal and, after yet another disappointing performance against City, Lineker tweeted: “It’s getting increasingly more difficult to blame Mesut Ozil.”
Ozil has not played a minute of football in over nine months and the 32-year-old still divides opinion, with former Arsenal coach Freddie Ljungberg recently claiming Ozil could offer something Arteta’s side is currently missing, while former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the midfielder is not the answer.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Ljungberg said: “It becomes a problem. We’re now discussing it again and I was here two weeks ago and we discussed Mesut then as well.
“As a coach, it’s a bit annoying because he needs to answer [questions on] it in press conferences when he wants to concentrate on the team. I don’t say that Mesut should play every single week.
“When you play against a top team – not Tottenham because they sit back, so maybe it’s a bit different – but when you play a City, who keep the ball a lot, maybe that’s not time for Mesut because you would just defend all the time.
“But when you have possession or you need to find that little cute pass, I don’t think there are many better players than Mesut in doing that.
“I don’t know why the decision was made, that he is outside of the 25-man squad and they can’t use him. But for those things, I don’t think there are many better players in the world.”
However, Carragher disagreed, claiming: “I don’t think the answer is bringing Ozil in.
“I know you used him more than [Emery and Arteta] did but I think you had a situation where he came off and threw his gloves in one game.
“Two managers – maybe three with yourself – are they all wrong about him?
“There’s no doubt he has got quality. But we’ve spoken about Ozil so often on this show over the years and I don’t think he’s the answer to fix all of Arsenal’s problems right now. Why don’t people pick him? There must be something.”
Speaking after their Carabao Cup exit, Arteta said: “[It was] a really painful moment again. We started the game conceding really early, a really soft goal and after that in this moment to get through that obviously is difficult.
“But the players reacted to be fair and we started to grow as the game was moving forward. We scored a goal, a really good goal and after that I think we were the better team for the next 25 minutes.
“But when we have the best moment in the game, we conceded another soft goal and that makes the game even harder.
“But still we kept going. We had an open situation we where we can play Laca through. We missed the pass and on that counter, they scored a goal in an offside position and obviously after that moment the game was over.”