The news keeps on getting better for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. Theo Walcott, who had been out since last year has regained his fitness and was a part of the team that beat Stoke City 3-0 but more importantly one of their most expensive players, is also on the road to recovery. Mesut Ozil, who had been side-lined with a knee injury since the start of October has re-joined the training team and hopefully will be making his return to the playing XI soon.
The German joined Arsenal last season and had a brilliant start to the season before trailing off midway through it. It was expected that the German would provide more fireworks this season since the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona but that has not materialised for the team, especially with Mesut facing such a long injury lay off but with him returning after nearly 3 months out, where can he fit into a team which seems to be doing well, especially with Alexis Sanchez firing on all cylinders.
The middle or the wing?
The question on everyone’s mind would be, who Arsene Wenger will drop to bring in Ozil. Arsenal cannot afford to keep Ozil on the bench for a lot of games or play him as a substitute or impact player, he would have to make a tough decision and one player who cannot be dropped is Alexis Sanchez.
While Sanchez is a sure shot to play most games, if not all, while Ozil’s best games have come for Arsenal when he has been deployed in the middle, right behind the striker, he would have to move to one of the wings seeing how good Alexis Sanchez has been for the Gunners this season, so Mesut would be playing either as a left winger or a right winger unless Alexis plays as the striker for Arsenal.
Should Arsenal deploy him as a winger, we will see a familiar problem from Mesut as he prefers to drift into the central part of the pitch when playing down the wings. Technically he is gifted and can cross the ball or make a pass but this was one of his major problems during his time at Real Madrid also, his drifting into the centre.
Ozil has often had a problem of being inconsistent with his form and that will be a worry for all fans once he does make a return to the team. He would at least not have to be the only outlet for goals and creativity thanks to the arrival of Sanchez but not being the top dog at Arsenal anymore, he would need to play a more different role than last season and doing well will be crucial if he has to stay at Arsenal.
On other hand, if Wenger makes up his mind and deploys Ozil in his preferred central role, it would mean that Sanchez will take up one flank, allowing the likes of Walcott and Cazorla to fight for the other flank. One Clear loser here is Santi Cazorla, who has enjoyed extended time in the starting eleven thanks to the injuries to Ozil, Ramsey and Wilshere. The return of Ozil would mean Cazorla has to fight for his place, which in turn is good for the club.
On current scenario (once Walcott and Ozil is fit to start the game), the above picture would be the strongest lineup Arsene Wenger could lineup, sacrificing Santi Cazorla. If everyone does stay fit, Wenger might have a bigger headache as Ramsey, Arteta and Wilshere are awaiting their return to the starting eleven.