Unai Emery has generally won over fans and pundits alike this season for his invigorating style of football but the tide has turned in recent weeks amid back-to-back away league defeats and growing concern over Mesut Ozil’s future at Arsenal.
It’s certainly too premature to form concrete judgements regarding Emery’s credentials to lead the Gunners into a bright future, but the fractured relationship between him and Ozil will be giving supporters huge cause for concern moving forward.
Emery is no stranger to controversy with star players. During his time as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, it was widely reported that he fell out with Neymar following a training ground confrontation, and his past experience with the Brazilian combined with the current saga surrounding Ozil hints that individual conflicts between player and manager could yet become a recurring theme.
His decision to leave Ozil out of his 18-man squad at the weekend has evoked plenty of fresh speculation regarding the German’s future, but there was another selection issue which BBC pundit Garth Crooks simply couldn’t understand: the decision to leave Aaron Ramsey on the substitutes bench.
‘As for Arsenal, their midfield was woefully lacking creativity – yet Unai Emery left Mesut Ozil, his most gifted footballer, out of the squad and Aaron Ramsey on the bench. Explain that to me.’
The problem for Emery in regards to Ramsey is this: he is unquestionably worth of a starting berth but with his departure looming on the horizon the Spaniard is looking to lay the foundations for a post-Ramsey future by utilising those players who will presumably remain in north London beyond the summer.
The Ozil situation is less clear-cut, though, and it’s easy to see why frustration is beginning to build amongst the Gunners faithful. On his day, Ozil is a world-beater who can single-handedly change the outcome of a 90-minute fixture with just one moment of creative genius and Arsenal look bereft of ideas without him in the side.
Exactly what the future holds for Ozil remains unclear, but Emery must find a solution to the growing problem by the end of the month to give his side a genuine chance of finishing inside the top-four this season.
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