The decision to exclude Mesut Özil is backfiring on the Arsenal hierarchy badly right now, and the longer it goes on the worse it could get.
Unai Emery has only named Özil in his matchday squad four times this season, letting the German get onto the pitch on just two occasions. According to the head coach, this is part of an agreed strategy between him and the higher-ups at the club.
The problem is the strategy is going horribly. Özil’s last match was the best Arsenal have played of the entire season, albeit against Championship opposition in Nottingham Forest, so that’s how many fans are remembering his performances.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are losing to Sheffield United, scraping past Vitoria or blowing leads against Crystal Palace. These are all winnable games, the kind Özil has often been accused of saving his best performances for.
It’s all well and good slating Özil for only playing well against teams like Bournemouth at home, but when you then struggle to results against those same teams without him you just look stupid.
The focus has shifted entirely to how poor Emery’s team is, without Özil as a scapegoat. The inability to create is used a weapon to put the head coach down whilst the fans chant the playmaker’s name in the stands.
By excluding Özil, the Arsenal hierarchy have made him more popular than ever. By waging war on their highest earner and then failing to perform without him, they’ve made themselves look incapable of making positive footballing decisions.
Hardly anyone believes the player has nothing to offer to the team, so it seems petty and wrong not to at least have him on the bench.
Emery, Raul Sanllehi and the rest appear to want to come off as ruthless and results orientated, but instead, they’re increasingly viewed as clueless. They’re digging their own graves here.