After a dull 1-0 victory against Bournemouth at the start of this month, the headlines were not made by the Arsenal players on the pitch, but rather by one off it.
When asked why he had chosen to leave Mesut Ozil out of the squad entirely, head coach Unai Emery bluntly responded "
But as the Premier League began to attract Europe's top managerial talent in Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, a 4-3-3 suddenly became the formation en vogue. Players of Mesut Ozil's style had now reached their Ice Age. It was time to adapt or become extinct.
Compare him to Kevin De Bruyne. When the Belgian arrived at Manchester City in 2015, he did so as one the most exciting No. 10s in the world, and was given free reign to do almost whatever he pleased on the pitch under Manuel Pellegrini.
But as Pellegrini was replaced by Guardiola, De Bruyne was forced to evolve his role to suit the demands of his manager's 4-3-3 formation. He has now established himself as one of the league's best playmakers, and is on track to break the Premier League record of 20 assists that Ozil came so close to smashing himself back in the 2015/16 season.
Ozil, on the other hand, can't even get into an Arsenal side crying out for some of the creativity he offers, and is below the likes of Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos in the pecking order.
An era of Gegenpressing and Tiki Taka means what you do off the ball has become as important as what you do on it. The last side to win the Champions League featuring a No. 10 was Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid back in 2013/14. Every other winner of Europe's elite club competition in that time has used the 4-3-3 formation.
Unai Emery simply won't tolerate Ozil's relaxed approach to his defensive duties, in the way that Arsene Wenger would. Ozil turned 31 this week, and the three-time Europa League winning coach appears to prefer younger, harder working players in the attacking slot of his three in midfield.
In a week where Extinction Rebellion protests reach their climax across the world, the comparison between Ozil and the human race failing to do enough to stop their impending doom will be a sorry sight for a some fans, and a moment to rejoice for others. He is a player out of fashion and out of time at Europe's top level.
Source : 90min