Mesut Özil is fit, but at FC Arsenal he’s not even in the squad anymore. The coach prefers to play a 19-year-old with one minute Premier League experience against West Ham. Where Özil usually gets it, the coach gets it now.
It was a bloodless performance by FC Arsenal against local rivals West Ham United. The “Gunners” deservedly lost the London Derby on Saturday with 0:1 (0:0). After an excellent autumn, Arsenal have lost the thread since mid-December, especially away. Five games in a row have not been won on a foreign field, including a 1-5 humiliation in Liverpool.
Mesut Özil was hardly present at any of these games – and after the public could understand during Arsenal’s success story that coach Unai Emery didn’t rely on the German midfielder without restrictions, more and more doubting voices are now being raised.
Unlike before, Özil would have been able to play against West Ham after back problems in the previous weeks – but Emery did not even call the 30-year-old into the 18-man squad. “The players here,” Emery said, “are better for today’s game.” That can happen with a big squad. But it’s surprising in this case that Emery even preferred to put the 19-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah on the bench, who has played exactly one minute in the Premier League during his career so far.
Against West Ham, Arsenal were lacking especially in midfield. Granite Xhaka and Co. were particularly defeated by the “Hammers” around 19-year-old match winner Declan Rice. Trailing, Emery changed twice, bringing Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira to strengthen this part of the team. This also paid off for a short time, but after West Hams coach Pellegrini also reacted and brought new strength, nothing came from Arsenal until the end of the game. There was no rebelling, hardly any goal chances, West Ham played the lead down confidently.