Former Arsenal defender Matthew Upson has given a warning of sorts to Mesut Ozil after he was left on the bench in Sunday’s win over Bournemouth.
The Gunners were much-changed in this weekend’s clash, with manager Unai Emery showing his unpredictable nature with a switch to a 3-4-3 formation and with Ozil remaining an unused substitute throughout.
In fairness, it worked pretty well for Arsenal as they won 2-1 against the Cherries, though there’s no doubt leaving Ozil out of a game like this given that he didn’t have any games over the international break was a big call.
Upson believes this decision should have the German playmaker concerned, as the team looked good in this new formation, which seemingly leaves little room for the no.10.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi got the nod in attack, though not in a role that would really get the best out of Ozil.
Upson believes this was a big statement from the manager and expressed the view that Ozil should not be happy with the situation.
‘Ozil is Arsenal’s best number 10, but there is no number 10 when you play in this shape. The question is whether Emery is willing to play him elsewhere in his midfield,’ the former defender told BBC Sport.
‘I would not be happy if I were Ozil. It’s a big statement for your manager to say that an experienced player like him is not up to playing in a match like this one.’
On the success of the change of system, Upson added: ‘Could he stick with it? Well, looking at the centre-back pairings that Emery has got, there is not really one that has stood out so far and I think it might help his situation at the back to play with a three.
‘It also definitely suits Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac – who set up both goals against the Cherries – to play as wing-backs as opposed to full-backs.
‘It means they can both attack more without worrying about their defensive responsibilities, and they both caused Bournemouth plenty of problems with their over-lapping runs down the outside.
‘Defensively too, they were pretty solid, considering they were away from home against a team who were the division’s fourth-highest scorers going into the weekend.’