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UEFA Europa League

Mesut Ozil deserves his chance to start in Arsenal's Europa League clash against Rennes

1:00 AM GMT 05/03/2019
Mesut Ozil Arsenal
It makes sense for Unai Emery to give the in-form Mesut Ozil game time against Rennes in the Europa League round of 16...

As Arsenal get ready to face French club Rennes in the Europa League round of 16, all eyes will be on the team starting XI which Unai Emery will field on Thursday.

The Spaniard has no shortage of attacking options at his disposal with the likes of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in excellent form at the moment.

All three of them were on the scoresheet in Arsenal’s 5-1 rout of Bournemouth and will be expected to feature against Rennes. Another man who impressed in the win over Bournemouth was Mesut Ozil with the German playmaker popping up with a goal and an assist after being handed a rare start by Emery.

The former Real Madrid man has become a peripheral figure at the club in recent months and has found himself frozen out of the good books of the Spanish coach.

The 30-year-old has been restricted to just 21 appearances across all competitions so far this season with the playmaker not even making the bench on many occasions.

Often described as a ‘luxury player’ in Arsenal’s setup due to his lack of endeavour and defensive contributions, Ozil has always been a divisive figure at the Emirates.  However, what has never been in doubt is his quality when on the ball.

With Aubameyang and Lacazette forming an excellent partnership and Mkhitaryan returning to form after an injury layoff, it is hard to justify Ozil’s inclusion in the starting XI at the moment but the Europa League could be the perfect vehicle to give the German an extended run.

Four of his 21 appearances this season have come in the European competition with the playmaker managing a goal and assist so far. While his appearances have been limited of late, Ozil more than showed his prowess in the start against Bournemouth and it would be foolish of Emery to drop him just when he is starting to hit his stride.

It makes no sense to completely freeze out the club’s highest paid player and while Ozil’s work-rate might not cut it at times in the high intensity Premier League, the German has the ability to thrive in Europe.

Rennes are not the most imposing of teams left in the competition and starting an in-form Ozil should be the way to go for Emery.