Should Arsenal stick with Mesut Ozil?


Will Arsenal Stick with Ozil?

Arsenal’s 42 million pound man has hit a bad run of form in recent weeks, looking particularly woeful against Bayern Munich in the midweek Champion’s League tie. The penalty to make us forget Jason Puncheon was the low point, but his entire performance was poor. The question for Arsene Wenger now becomes “at what point do you have to drop a star signing for the good of the team?” Wenger’s opposites in north London, Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood, have already struggled with that question twice this year with the misfiring Roberto Soldado and the mysteriously-injured Erik Lamela. Sherwood has opted to sit both of them and use older, more established club players in their respective roles—Emmanuel Adebayor and Aaron Lennon. Will Wenger make a similar decision this weekend? One has to assume Tomas Rosicky would be the beneficiary, with Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain maintaining control of the wide attacking roles. If it were me, I would stick with Ozil simply because the weekend’s opponent is Sunderland at the Emirates. That means Sunderland will likely stay deep and look to hit on the counter or on a set piece. And against a packed defense, an out-of-form Ozil is likely still a better choice than Rosicky. That said, I would probably drop him for the Bayern Munich tie and perhaps even for Stoke away. Rosicky’s pace and energy may be more valuable in those matches.

Will the nightmare continue for David Moyes?

At the beginning of the season a trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace would look like an automatic three points for United—and a good weekend to pad that goal difference with a 4-0 or 5-0 thumping. But with United looking more and more out of sorts and Palace looking better than ever under Tony Pulis, one almost wonders if United would be lucky to leave with three points. Palace will be well organized and disciplined and should have no problem handling United’s one-dimensional attacking down the flanks. The game will likely hinge on two factors. First, can one of United’s elite players work a bit of magic to score a key goal for the Red Devils? Second, can Palace hit United on the counter or off a set piece? It’s not too bold a prediction, but I’m guessing we’ll see a 1-1 draw and more pressure heaped on Moyes.

Will one of the top five stumble?

Though the title race is often referred to as a four-team battle, it’s easy to forget that Tottenham is only three points behind Liverpool. Spurs’ form has been woeful against the top four this year, but against the rest of the top flight Spurs have been very good—their league best away form testifies to the fact. Spurs still decidedly dark horse candidates for top four and aren’t serious title contenders, but they’re not far off the pace. So the big question this weekend—and every weekend for the rest of the campaign—is whether one of the top 5 will stumble? The likeliest candidates for a stumble are Chelsea and Spurs. Chelsea has a difficult match against Everton (though it is at home) and Spurs come off their dull Europa League loss to Dnipro with a visit to Carrow Road. Norwich recently held City to a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road and will be looking to do the same against Spurs. I expect a tense Chelsea win—1-0 like as not with Edin Hazard providing the goal—and a frustrating 1-1 draw at Carrow Road with Adebayor rescuing a late draw for Spurs.

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