Arsenal’s recent victory in the Europa League against Vitoria Guimares raised more questions than answers as the Emirates-based outfit were outplayed for large spells by their opponents. This was not surprising given the formation that manager Unai Emery used for the game.
The Gunners looked unassured on the ball and unable to create chances against their lowly opponents from Portugal. One player that caused a stir due to his omission from the team was German star MesutOzil. His well-publicized problems with Emery were on display as he was not named in the team.
Ozil has been made to play a bit-part role for the Gunners as Emery does not value the creative midfielder for a regular berth in the team. This is largely surprising as he is also the highest-paid player in the team.
This discussion was a focal point during the Gunners defeat by Sheffield United on Monday as English pundits Gary Neville, and Jaime Carragher spoke at length regarding the situation. Ozil, on his day is a world-class performer capable of destroying the best defenses in the world with his pinpoint passes.
However, the standoff between the player and the coach has not been beneficial for the club who continue to drop points against smaller opposition.
The only saving grace in the performance was the emergence of Nicolas Pepe as an important figure for the team. The Ivorian has largely struggled since making his big-money move to the club in the summer. The 24-year-old enjoyed an excellent cameo from the bench scoring two top-class freekicks that won the game for the home team.
Arsenal next faces Crystal Palace in the League in what is traditionally a tricky fixture with Roy Hodgson’s winning at the Emirates last season. It will be interesting to see how the players will perform.