The Ozil/Mkhitaryan dilemma

The Ozil/Mkhitaryan dilemma

12 Feb, 13:00

Just seven days from a five-goal demolition of Everton and Arsene Wenger was bemoaning the lack of creativity, wastefulness and mental fortitude of his Arsenal team. The creativity evaporated even with two creators, Mkhitaryan and Ozil, both on the pitch.

January signings, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, so influential a week earlier, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, were easily silenced by Tottenham. Mesut Ozil, forced wide in a tactical switch to accommodate another central midfielder, promptly disappeared. The North London derby was not the place to gamble. Arsene Wenger threw the dice a number of times at Wembley, but failed each time.

Wenger's team was overpowered in midfield and toothless up front. All the positivism generated by the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the January transfer window and Mesut Ozil's contract extension evaporated at Wembley.

The problem

What was clear from the defeat at Wembley is that Arsene Wenger needs to find a formation that suits all his attacking players.

Against Everton, with Alex Iwobi lining up on the left, it worked perfectly as that allowed Mesut Ozil to play in the No.10 role behind Aubameyang. He and Mkhitaryan were then given license to interchange positions and dictate the play. But with Wenger opting for the extra midfielder at Wembley, that saw Ozil and Mkhitaryan having to operate in more rigid roles out wide as part of a front free - something that really held them back in an attacking point of view.

Both players look far more comfortable when they are in the central areas. They never got into the game playing out wide. Mkhitaryan was equally out of sorts. The Armenian showed at Manchester United that he can be anonymous. At Wembley he was almost invisible.

Only solution

Clearly, the only solution left is for Arsene Wenger to work out quickly what formation best suits both Ozil and Mkhitaryan.

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