Can Arsenal survive without Mesut Ozil?

Ozil Arsenal 5

Mesut Ozil’s knee injury has given Arsene Wenger a headache ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash at home against Norwich City.

Ozil has been one of the stand out performers as Arsenal have raced to the top of the Premier League and Arsene Wenger will now have to drop his main man, giving him a selection problem.

The good news for the Gunners is that a very similar player in Santi Cazorla is closing on a return to full fitness and is likely to be available for selection this weekend against the Canaries.

The only problem is Cazorla has not had a great deal of football and will be lacking that match sharpness and fitness, which could prompt Wenger into naming him as a sub as opposed to a starter.

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There is no point in Arsenal risking Cazorla unless he’s fully fit, especially when there is enough midfield cover and with the Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund next week bearing down on the team.

Cazorla could start against Norwich but it’s unlikely that he’d be able to play the entire 90 minutes in his first game back from injury which could force a fundamental change to the midfield and shape of the team in the second-half.

If the match turns out to be a tight affair, Wenger won’t want to take the risk of changing things at a crucial time.

An alternative is using Jack Wilshere in a more advanced role at the top of the midfield.

Wilshere is a good enough player to sit in behind Olivier Giroud, pulling the strings and linking the various parts of the midfield. He’s not as prolific as Ozil in terms of assists but he’s fit and he’ll be confident after England’s win against Poland.

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However, Wilshere is far more effective in a central position as opposed to a role at attacking midfield.

Wenger could ask Aaron Ramsey to play in a more advanced position, which he has done superbly this season bagging five goals in nine starts for the side in all competitions.

Ramsey can play in a similar way to Ozil, in behind the main striker but he can also drift across the top of the midfield taking up positions in the right and left hand side, with Wilshere and Mikel Arteta providing strength in the middle of the side in behind him.

Arsenal have issues but they have been dealing with a long injury list for most of the season which means this latest setback doesn’t create anything new for Wenger.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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