Unai Emery should sign two players of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira’s ilk to bring the best out of Mesut Ozil, according to ex-Arsenal boss George Graham.
Ozil has been Arsenal’s main creative source since he joined from Real Madrid in 2013 but has come under regular fire for his apparent ‘bad attitude’ and lack of defensive contribution.
Ozil’s love/hate relationship with Arsenal: Five key things to know…
- Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013.
- Since then, the German has provided 74 assists in 222 games.
- However, he has come under regular fire for an apparent lack of contribution in defence.
- Ex-Gunners boss Graham believes two Petit and Vieira-esque midfielders could truly unlock Ozil.
- This season, the 30-year-old has five goals and three assists in 26 games.
However, Graham, who won two league titles as Arsenal manager just before the Premier League era, claims he would have played Ozil between two players like Petit and Vieira if he were still in charge of the north London club.
“When I was a manager, I probably would have bought Vieira and Petit the other side and put Ozil in the middle!” Graham told Love Sport Radio.
“He’s a real quality player in possession. There’s no question about it.
“If they can just get him working a bit harder without possession, they’ve got a fantastic player.
“In the modern game now, you have to play when you’ve got the ball and you play when you haven’t got the ball. This is the modern way.
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“He’s just got to work a lot harder with the attitude as well as the physical side of the game.
“He’s never going to fly into tackles like Graeme Souness, who was excellent on the ball but was tough without it.
“Nobody expects Ozil to do that, but they do expect him, when they lose the ball, to get back into the shape the team is playing.”
Graham bemoans Arsenal’s Ramsey ‘mistake’
One midfielder Arsenal will definitely lose in the summer is Wales international, Aaron Ramsey, who has a pre-contract agreement with Juventus.
And just like many other pundits and fans, Graham is baffled by the club’s inability to keep him at the Emirates, claiming the club are making a mistake allowing a player with his attacking talents to leave.
“The clubs usually, with two years to go on the contract, sit down and start talking,” Graham added.
“Then you have an indication of whether the player is going to stay or go.
“Obviously, they’ve made a big mistake I think in letting Ramsey go. He’s a quality player especially in an attacking sense.
“He’s not the best in midfield winning the ball back for you but he gets goals and is a great player going forward, not necessarily defending.”