Arsenal need to be getting “luxury” Mesut Ozil into their team, says Paul Merson, with the former Gunners star baffled as to how a side lacking creativity can justify freezing a World Cup winner out.
Mikel Arteta has taken the brave decision to leave the German playmaker out of his Premier League and Europa League squads.
Many have suggested that Ozil, who was snapped up from Real Madrid in 2013, will not be seen again before he hits free agency next summer.
Plenty would like to see him brought back in from the cold, with inconsistent Arsenal crying out for a player with match-altering ability – particularly misfiring frontmen Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Merson is among those calling for a rethink at Emirates Stadium, with it becoming painfully clear that a Gunners side seriously lacking in guile is going to struggle to hit ultimate targets through graft alone.
“They have no guile in midfield. If I'm a forward - an Aubameyang or Lacazette - I need Ozil in the team. I'm only as good as the players giving me the ball.”
Asked about many Arsenal fans initially agreeing with the Ozil snub, Merson added: “Of course they did, because all they are worried about is how many noughts are on his wages, and he doesn’t run around.
“Then they all go to the pub on a Saturday night and sit and have a drink going: 'Oh, if we had 11 Xhakas, we'd be alright, we'd definitely stay up, we'd win the league, wouldn't we? See how he ran around today?' And all that.
“No! Get a luxury player on - it doesn't matter how much money he's on, get him in the team and he makes things happen.
“If I had [Thierry] Henry at Walsall when I was a manager, do you think he would have got 50 goals? Course he wouldn't. Who's going to give him the ball? You're only as good as the players giving you the ball.
“You ask Ian Wright that. Ian Wright was the best finisher I ever played with by a million miles but Wrighty will tell you, you're only as good as the players that are making your chances.
“You can make runs all day long, if you haven't got that guile or vision to put the ball through, you're never going to score goals. Will it happen?
“It's got to happen. If it doesn't happen, where are they going? They will be a bottom half team, I'm afraid.
“Before the Wolves game, I said Wolves will be disappointed if they get on the coach and go back up, if they don't get a result. How's that?
“Ozil has to play. Don't worry about his wages, don't worry about running around. Just give him the ball and get other people to run around, and that's how you get results.”
Merson went on to say of the struggles Arsenal have been enduring in the final third of the field: “People aren’t making runs, there's no running off the ball, there's no urgency, it's so static.
“Aubameyang's body language... he's got no-one to give him the ball. There's no plan.
“You've got your two talismen at the moment - Aubameyang and Willian - they don't hardly touch the ball.
“Now do something in the game to say: 'Right, I need you two on the ball'. When he [Ozil] got left out the team, he was Arsenal's best player, wasn't he?
“He makes things happen. Get him on the pitch, get two players up front, give Ozil the freedom. What's wrong with this free role? You've got to work hard because you're on all this money?
“Working hard is finding a pass.”