Freddie Ljungberg would not have axed Mesut Ozil from the team and says the team miss his creativity in certain matches, though feels he no longer suits the style Mikel Arteta favours.
Ozil was omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squad lists and appears to have played his final match for the gunners, with his current contract expiring next summer.
Ljungberg, who was previously the assistant to Arteta until he left his role in August, started Ozil in his first three matches as interim manager and is still a fan of the player, though feels his exile from the team is a tactical decision from the manager.
When quizzed on why Ozil has found himself out in the cold now, Ljungberg told 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.’
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But, he did defend Arteta’s right to leave Ozil out: ‘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 defender Patrice Evra was also on punditry duty and believes there was another reason for Ozil’s exile.
‘When you have a player like Ozil, he has to play,’ said Evra. ‘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.’