Carabao Cup third round. Nowhere to be seen.
Who do you blame? Just over a week ago, Mesut Özil was the highest paid player at Arsenal. His standing in that regard has lowered one single place, but it’s still £350k-per-week.
Now we’re in a position where our longest serving player can’t even make the bench of a Carabao Cup third round tie. Not even the bench. An eventual fall from grace was always anticipated, but not quite as catastrophic as this.
Mikel Arteta’s assessment of the German’s position was blunt. Insisting the team is constantly “evolving” and discovering a new level is about as damning a verdict as you can get. A squad without a single number ten had no place for the 31-year-old. If it wasn’t to be now, then never.
Adding further that other players are in “better condition” is all you need to know. The only way Özil is going to improve his condition is to play minutes. Namely, Carabao Cup third round minutes. That ship has sailed.
He was a player once adored. Chanting our adoration for him from all corners of the Emirates was both mesmeric and memorable. The day he joined won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
As seen in the latter part of Arsene Wenger’s reign, Unai Emery’s cursed spell and even in the early days of Arteta, his time in the elite bracket of footballers is well and truly over. Not performing to an acceptable standard during that period tends to arrive outcome.
Prior to Leicester, it would have been nice to see Özil play. Even briefly. Hindsight, however, is a wonderful thing and respecting the manager’s choice on this is as much a part of backing him as is heralding him for three points. Arteta sees what we don’t and it isn’t Arsenal quality. It hasn’t been for a while.
Özil is unlikely to ever kick a ball for Arsenal outside of London Colney. From a progression point of view and on footballing merit, it’s justified. There are plenty of others not just more deserving, but who offer something worthwhile in this new era.
It does not, however, make it any less sad. There are those who will feel no pity for Özil. There are those who will chastise Arteta for his standpoint. Regardless, the decision has been made.
It’s sad, but substantiated.