Mikel Arteta has been told to apologise to Mesut Ozil after freezing him out – and get him back in Arsenal’s team to save their ailing Premier League season.
The Gunners are desperate for the points against Burnley on Sunday after failing to win in their last four league games – three of which were defeats.
Arteta’s side have suffered from a lack of creativity, and this was never more obvious than in last weekend’s North London derby defeat to Spurs.
Arsenal had the greater share of possession but couldn’t break down a stubborn defensive set-up after being hit twice on the break by Jose Mourinho’s side.
The 2-0 defeat made it one goal in four Premier League games for the Gunners – prompting questions about what Arteta can do to address the problem in the January transfer window.
But the solution is already at the manager’s fingertips, according to Arsenal legend Paul Merson.
“Arsenal could still be playing Tottenham NOW and they wouldn’t have scored a goal,” said Merson in his Daily Star column.
“What can they do in January to fix it? Go and knock on Mesut Ozil’s door, say you’re sorry and you need him to play!
“Arsenal were atrocious against Spurs. They never looked like scoring. Ozil’s getting £350,000-a-week and sitting at home while his team can’t score.”
Ozil has drawn criticism over his perceived lack of work rate, and Merson admits the midfielder is not always ideal for games when Arsenal need to roll their sleeves up.
But the two-time title winner insisted Ozil would be perfect for unlocking defences in games in which they will have a lot of the ball – such as Sunday’s Emirates clash against Burnley.
“I’m not saying play him against Manchester City or Liverpool, when you’re not going to see much of the ball,” said Merson.
“But against teams like Spurs or Burnley, he can get on the ball and dictate things and make a few decent chances.”
Ozil has not played for the Gunners since March, and the 32-year-old was left out of Arteta’s Premier League and squad Europa League squads for the first half of the season.
But he could be brought back into the fold next month – and Merson said it needs to happen if Arsenal are to climb up from their present miserable position of 15th in the table.
“They could re-register him in January. They’re missing a trick if they don’t,” said the ex-England midfielder.
“I just don’t know where Arsenal are going right now. The manager was talking after the Spurs game as if they’d played well. I hope he doesn’t actually believe that!
“You would still expect them to beat Burnley. It’s a nice game for them. Burnley don’t have the pace on the counter to hurt Arsenal, and they don’t score many goals.
“Arsenal should beat them. But it will only be papering over the cracks if they do.”