Was Houssem Aouar meant to replace Mesut Ozil at Arsenal? | Pitch to Post Review podcast

Only Burnley and Newcastle having created fewer chances in the Premier League this season than the Gunners, who have now won just one of their last seven matches after Sunday's north London derby defeat.

With Arsenal's troubles prompting fresh calls for Mikel Arteta to reinstate outcast Mesut Ozil, Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth assesses the Gunners' handling of the situation.

Was Ozil ousted too soon? Did the Gunners inadvertently leave themselves short by failing to bring Houssem Aouar to the Emirates? The Pitch to Post Review Podcast examines…

Is there any way back for Ozil at Arsenal?

"It would be a massive, massive U-turn if Arteta was the welcome Ozil back into the Arsenal squad in January. Yes, funnier things have happened in football, but this one seems to have gone too far. It feels like it is the end of the road for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.

"This has not been a sudden decision from Arteta, when he first took over, he started Ozil in every one of his first 10 Premier League games in charge. The came the halt in the season due to the coronavirus, and Ozil has not played a single minute for Arsenal since.

"When you talk about Mesut Ozil, and other players in his predicament, it's amazing how players become better when they are not actually playing.

"But I will remind you there was not this much talk when Ozil was left out of the squad and Arsenal won the FA Cup, beating Manchester City and Chelsea in that competition, or when they beat Liverpool on penalties in the Community Shield. Nobody was talking about Ozil then."

With Aouar not signed, was Arteta too quick to cast Ozil aside?

"One thing I would question is whether Arteta made up his mind about Ozil a little bit too hastily.

"When it was clear he was not parts of the plans during the summer, I thought Arsenal had something lined up and they were going to bring in a creative player in the mould of Lyon's Houssem Aouar. I thought that was going to be a done deal, but that did not happen.

"They brought in Thomas Partey, of course, and I think he will be a fantastic signing in the long term for Arsenal, but when Aouar did not happen, it seemed things had got to the point of no return by then with Ozil, and so Arteta did not have either Aouar or Ozil.

"You can understand Arteta's thinking in one sense, with Ozil in the final year of his contract and there are no plans to extend the contract of a player who is into his 30s. Arteta is looking long term and he feels Ozil is not going to be in his plans further than this season. He has always maintained the Ozil decision was a footballing decision and his decision.

"But there is no doubt Arsenal are not creating enough goalscoring chances, the numbers are staggering. In their first two Premier League games Arsenal scored five goals, in the nine league games since, Arsenal have scored five goals."

Arsenal's derby defeat means they sit 11 points behind Tottenham with just over a quarter of the season gone. Has the north London divide ever been this large?

"There were times under Mauricio Pochettino where Spurs were this far ahead of Arsenal, but I think this says it all: We are in a season where it's almost snakes and ladders where one win can push you up five or six places, or vice versa, yet Spurs are 11 points ahead of Arsenal. It's quite stunning given we have only played just over a quarter of the season.

"But Sunday's win was a different domination - Spurs did not have much of the ball, and they were happy to sit back after scoring their second. It was tactical domination.

"This was a manager in Mourinho, who has had around a year at a club, seeing his side completely embody a distinct identity, against another manager in Arteta, who has had around a year at a club, completely lost as to what their identity is.

"When Arsenal moved to the Emirates in 2006, it forced them to hold back in the transfer market for years thereafter, and that contributed to Arsene Wenger beginning to struggle at the club.

"Now Spurs, who built one of the world's greatest stadiums, are seemingly doing just fine in the market and have been able to spend as much as Arsenal are today - in the last two years Spurs have spent £232m, and Arsenal have spent £223m.

"So on and off the pitch at the moment, the gulf is big. But Arsenal won a trophy a few months ago. Spurs have not won a trophy since 2008, so we can judge proper gulf and proper success at the end of the season."

source:sky sports


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