Freddie Ljungberg would not have axed Mesut Ozil from Arsenal’s squad and believes the side miss his creativity in certain games, though feels he no longer suits the style or formation Mikel Arteta favours.
The German World Cup winner was omitted from both Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squad lists and appears to have played his final game for the club, with his contract expiring next summer.
Ljungberg, who was assistant to Arteta until he left his role in August, started Ozil in his first three games as interim boss and is still a huge fan of the playmaker, though feels his exile is a tactical decision from the manager.
Asked why Ozil has found himself out in the cold now, Ljungberg said on Sky Sports: ‘I can’t answer that question, that I don’t know.
‘But for me, when I chose to play him, it was because a club as Arsenal, when you play at home against – no disrespect – smaller clubs that you think you should dominate, he should be on the pitch to unlock things with his special passes.
‘Yes he maybe doesn’t have the athleticism now that is demanded in the Premier League, so you lose a little bit of that.
‘But I felt that we should be good enough. So I think when you play Manchester City and they have the ball all the time and all you do is run after the ball the whole time, maybe that’s not the game for having Mesut on the pitch.
‘But if you want creativity, his left foot is fantastic.’
He did defend Arteta’s right to leave Ozil out, however, continuing: ‘I think you have to look at the way Arsenal play now, with the system they play – where would you put him?
‘Because the two midfielders in the middle are hard-working and then the wingers are almost in the position where Auba plays today, and obviously Auba will play, so you have to find how you’re going to play.’
Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra was also on punditry duty and felt there was another reason for Ozil’s exile beyond what he does – or does not – do on the pitch.
‘When you have a player like Ozil, he has to play,’ said the Frenchman. ‘It must be something with the club. I think Freddie won’t say it.’
Ljungberg responded: ‘I didn’t say that he shouldn’t play. I felt like in certain games he really suits the play. And like every other player, some games may be better.’
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