Arsenal are expected to drop Mesut Ozil against Manchester United

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It's an odd paradox that Arsenal's highest-paid player is arguably the one who has most disappointed Unai Emery this season. 

Mesut Ozil has started just 14 of the Gunners' 29 league games in the 2018/19 campaign, partly due to a series of injuries and illnesses. 

Yet Emery has also decided against starting him on a number of key occasions. The former Germany international has started just three of 11 games against the top six in all competitions. 

In fact, that looks set to be the case once again when the north Londoners welcome Manchester United on Sunday. 

The Times report that it's "unlikely" the playmaker will be in the starting XI at the Emirates because Emery has a number of concerns about his suitability for big games. 

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It's said that the Arsenal boss thinks Ozil pulls out of challenges too easily, he doesn't track back enough, and he doesn't work hard enough without the ball. 

They are all serious deficiencies in any Premier League game, but Emery cannot afford to take the risk against a team that plays with the intensity of the current United side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Even publicly, Emery recently said in a press conference: 

“He needs to be consistent, be available for training, for the matches, without the injuries, without being sick."

Ozil's stock has been falling at Arsenal 

The newspaper also gives a number of insights into how the World Cup winner is viewed in the Arsenal camp, with his 'illness' against West Ham earlier this season thought to have been a turning point, amidst accusations that other players would have managed to play.

Indeed, one of the most alarming claims against the 30-year-old is that even Arsene Wenger, for so long his biggest advocate and the man who pushed to sign him from Real Madrid, had begun to lose faith by the end of last season.

When Emery came in, Ozil was initially a big part of his plans. It's becoming increasingly clear that's no longer the case. 

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Emery cannot be afraid to make the big calls as his side look to bounce back from the 3-1 loss at Rennes.

Arsenal facing United used to be the standout fixture in the Premier League calendar. 

Clashes between the two giants have lost some of their mystique over the past few years, but there is once again a lot riding on Sunday's encounter.

Having beaten the Red Devils just once in their last seven attempts, anything but three points would serve as a dent to the Gunners' hopes of a Champions League place. 

Should Ozil be starting the big games? Have your say in the comments. 

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