Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is considering deploying Mesut Ozil in a central No.10 role tomorrow, when the Gunners take on Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby.
According to the Daily Express, which has published quotes from the Frenchman, Wenger has revealed that he is considering using Ozil in a similar position to the one he occupied during the 3-0 victory over Aston Villa last weekend.
The German international impressed in that fixture, despite being under heavy pressure to perform, and Wenger has since admitted that the possibility of him undertaking such a role was one he was considering.
“Ozil played very well against Aston Villa and showed a good understanding with Danny Welbeck,” Wenger said.
“There is a good partnership there, they gave each other goals to score and it was an interesting experience.
“It is tempting to keep him in that central role but I maintain he will play where needed for the balance of the team and that can change game by game."
The significance of his eventual decision could have large repercussions, particularly given the importance of the match in question. Tensions are high in north London following a relatively tame start to Arsenal’s campaign, and Spurs enter the match knowing that they can ill-afford a poor showing.
As such the backdrop generates an interesting blend which could well boil over come tomorrow evening. Wenger will need his experienced stars, Ozil included, playing at maximum capacity to overcome the threats that his opposition possess, whilst his defensive organisation will be tested despite the return of Per Mertesacker.
Standing as one of the most influential figures in Arsenal’s dressing room following his £42.5million switch to the Emirates last summer, Ozil could either endear himself to fans with a great performance, or further give them reason to criticise him. The general consensus is that he has yet to justify his lucrative price tag on a consistent basis, and his showings haven’t produced the sort of form he regularly displayed at Real Madrid.
There’s been more than one call to drop him from the starting XI altogether, but that doesn’t look like being Wenger’s route of choice. Ozil was magnificent against Villa, and proved what he’s capable of, though it’s unlikely he’ll be afforded to sort of freedom to roam against Spurs, that he was against Paul Lambert’s side.
His occupation during tomorrow’s fixture might not be top of Wenger’s list of priorities however, as a number of other questions are being posed. The bulk of them centre around the defence, with Mertesacker set to make his return in partnering Laurent Koscielny.
Injuries have ravaged the full-back berths at the Emirates and so it remains unclear just who will be chosen as right and left-backs, though whoever gets the nod will need to be on form to deal with the threat from Mauricio Pochettino’s wingers.