Paul Merson says Mesut Özil 'has to play' against Tottenham
Özil was not registered in Arsenal's 25 man squad
Paul Merson believes Mesut Özil "has to play" against Tottenham in Sunday's North London derby.
Arsenal's underwhelming form in recent weeks - they have lost more games than they've won this season - has seen fans clamour for Mikel Arteta to inject some creativity into the side, which obviously means calls for ostracised playmaker Özil to return to the frame.
"How would he not get in that team, Özil?" Merson said.
"They have no guile in midfield. If I'm a forward, if I'm an Aubameyang or a Lacazette, I need Özil in the team. I'm only as good as the players giving me the ball."
Speaking about Arsenal fans largely welcoming Özil being frozen out of the squad, Merson said: "Course they did, because all they're looking at is how many noughts are on his wages, and that he doesn't run around.
"Then they'll all go to the pub on a Saturday night, they sit in the pub having a drink, going, 'If we had eleven Xhakas we'd be alright, wouldn't we? We'd win the league, wouldn't we?'
🗣"Ozil has to play, don't worry about his wages or running around, if you ask Mourinho tomorrow he would rather Ozil not play than play if he saw him on the team-sheet that would wreck everything"
Paul Merson's passionate rant about Mesut Ozil at Arsenal pic.twitter.com/NrRnY4ACkY
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 5, 2020
"No, get a luxury player on. It doesn't matter how much money he's on. Just get him in the team and he makes things happen.
"If I had [Thierry] Henry at Walsall when I was the manager, do you think he'd have got 50 goals? Of course he wouldn't, who's going to give him the ball?
"You ask Ian Wright that, he was the best finisher I've ever played with by a million miles, but Wrighty will tell you, you're only as good as the players that are making you chances."
You get the picture.
Merson makes a fair point, in one sense. Arsenal are not creating good enough chances for their attackers, Aubameyang looks isolated in attack and in theory, a playmaker would help resolve that problem.
But the whole discussion is moot right now, because Özil was not registered in Arsenal's 25-man Premier League squad. He is not allowed to play.
Merson went on to say if Özil doesn't return to the team (he won't), Arsenal will be a bottom half team. And looking at their current form - four wins, one draw, five losses - it's hard to argue.