Since the restart of football following the Coronavirus pandemic, Mesut Özil has not featured for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal. For years, he has been a player that divides opinion like no other. But now, the Gunners must find a way to deal with the huge contract of a player who does not fit in the manager’s plans. The preferred method would be selling the player with 12 months left on his contract. The problem is that the German seems keen to stay, even if he is not playing.
He very well may just sit around at the club, while Arteta eyes his replacement. With this unfortunate reality, the Spaniard must look within the club for the player who will replace the 31-year-old’s creativity in the squad.
Arsenal’s Replacement for Mesut Ozil May Come From Within, Says Mikel Arteta
Looking to Replace Özil
The youngster spent the second half of the season on loan at Huddersfield Town. Smith-Rowe, who turns 20 later this week, will finally have a real chance to compete for a spot in the Arsenal team. Before his loan spell, he made just six appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this campaign. Under Danny Cowley at Huddersfield, he played 19 times, scoring twice and adding three assists.
“I think he’s someone who can be pretty impressive,” Arteta said. “I’m pleased by what I’ve seen from him. He needs that exposure and he looks more mature now. I think he will be in a much better place when he comes back in pre-season.”
Clearly, the Gunners boss sees him as a big part of the team for the coming season. The biggest question about Smith-Rowe is what different elements can he bring to the team?
Lack of Creativity
As was evident in Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, the team lacks a real way to create chances against the smaller clubs. They have been far more successful against the bigger clubs as of late because of the ability to counter-attack. However, there are many teams they will come up against that will allow them to have the ball and that seems to confound the Arsenal players. This squad is incapable of dominating teams like they used to in the Wenger Era.
Emile Smith-Rowe might not be the only thing needed to fix this problem, but there is no doubt that he is part of the solution. He is the Özil replacement that Arteta is looking for.
Arteta went on to say: “He’s a player with specific qualities to play in those pockets in that position as an attacking midfielder.”
Arteta’s assessment of the player confirms he is the type of player that this squad is missing. Even with the re-emergence of Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos, an additional layer is needed in midfield. If Arsenal can manage to keep Ceballos for another season, the team might be in very good shape.
Could Mikel Arteta Change Formation?
Ultimately, it is expected that Mikel Arteta will play with a back four next season. Since the restart, he has utilised a back five for extra stability. Taking the additional centre-back, and adding more quality and substance to the midfield and attack will be a top priority for Arteta, who will be looking to improve in his first full season in the job. Whether or not Arsenal remain solid at the back without the extra centre-back remains to be seen.
Embed from Getty Images