Paul Merson says Arsenal must drop Henrikh Mkhitaryan against Napoli

Arsenal player Paul Merson with the League Cup and man of the match trophy after the 1993 Coca-Cola Cup Final between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley on April 18, 1993 in London,...

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil could be competing for a place in Unai Emery's starting XI ahead of Arsenal's Europa League quarter-final with Napoli.

Mesut Ozil of Arsenal beats Allan of Napoli during the UEFA Europa League Quarter Final First Leg match between Arsenal and S.S.C. Napoli at Emirates Stadium on April 11, 2019 in London,...

Paul Merson believes Mesut Ozil is a must in Arsenal’s starting XI as they take on Napoli for a place in the Europa League semi-finals tonight, as reported by the Daily Star.

The mercurial German has been in and out of Unai Emery’s team this season but he has shown some semblance of that world-class ability of late, helping the Gunners outclass a disappointing Napoli side in last week’s 2-0 first-leg win at the Emirates.

Ozil, who played 67 minutes against Carlo Ancelotti’s side, could also be key to their chances of scoring an away goal at the San Paolo which would more than likely kill the tie as a contest.


Merson has encouraged Emery to hand Ozil a key role in Naples, while adding that the equally inconsistent Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be the man left on the bench.

“I would play Ozil. They will need to score an away goal. You can’t play him and Henrikh Mkhitaryan together in a game like this,” Merson said.

“But play Ozil and let him try to unpick that Napoli defence and create something. For all his faults he is still a match-winner.”

Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on February 10, 2018 in London, England.

Like the former Real Madrid star, Mkhitaryan has endured a mixed season under Emery.

The 2016 Bundesliga Player of the Year was heavily criticised for his performance during Monday’s nervy 1-0 win at Watford, with Gunners legend Ian Wright claiming he’s been an ‘absolute nightmare’ since arriving from Manchester United 14 months ago, while speaking to Sky Sports (15 April, 10:00pm).

Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on April 15, 2019 in Watford, United Kingdom.

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