Mesut Ozil is arguably the most talented player in the Arsenal squad, but manager Arsene Wenger should leave him out of the side against Manchester City in the Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
That’s the message from former Leicester City and Derby County midfielder Robbie Savage, who also advises the Frenchman not to include midfielder Mikel Arteta in his starting line-up because of the duo’s lack of pace.
‘Wenger’s best bet is to have his team sit a bit deeper than Arsenal would normally play at home and use Welbeck’s pace on the break...’, wrote the former Wales international in The Mirror.
‘To give Arsenal’s backfour a reliable human shield, Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey (if fit) must play, while Jack Wilshere, as I said in this column a couple of weeks ago, needs a run of games for his talent to flourish.
‘If Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - all of them bang in form - fill the three most attacking positions, that would leave no room for sentiment... and no room for Ozil or Arteta.
‘You need legs in the middle of the park to compete with Man City and, for me, that combination gives Arsenal the right balance of resilience, lung power and speed on the break’.
Savage’s comments about Ozil will come as a shock to many Arsenal fans, who will wonder how the Gunners can even contemplate of dropping the 2014 World Cup winner.
But is the Match of the Day pundit’s idea really that outlandish? Ozil has yet to hit top form this season since his return from Germany’s triumphant Brazil campaign and has also been struggling with injuries lately.
Moreover, Savage’s remarks about Arsenal needing to use pace against City cannot be ignored. Alexis Sanchez is a powerful and pacy forward who is set to start, and so is Danny Welbeck, who joined the Gunners from Manchester United on transfer deadline day for a reported transfer fee of £16 million.
However, dropping Ozil would mean leaving out one of the most creative midfielders in the world who can change a match in the blink of an eye.
Wenger has played the former Real Madrid star on the wings where he has not looked very effective; if the Frenchman deploys the 25-year-old in a central position, then there is every possibility that he will be the star of the show and lead Arsenal to three points against Premier League champions City.