Mesut Ozil boasts “unbelievable ability”, says Nigel Winterburn, but has seen Unai Emery make it clear that nobody is beyond bench duty if they do not pull their weight.
The Germany international has appeared untouchable at times throughout his stay at Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger, having invested heavily in another creative talent, was a big fan and often prepared to overlook dips in form.
Emery has wiped that slate clean and while Ozil remains an important figure for a new regime, the 30-year-old is aware that he can longer take his place for granted.
Arsenal legend Winterburn, speaking exclusively to betting aggregator bookmakers.tv, said of the World Cup winner ahead of a derby date with Tottenham: “Ozil’s got unbelievable ability, but maybe he frustrates people because he drifts in and out of games.
“There’s no doubt that his position is number 10 behind the striker, and Emery could fit him in the system he wants to play.
“But last weekend [against Bournemouth] shows it doesn’t matter who you are, if you don’t fit the system to face the opposition, you’ll be on the bench or not in the squad.
“Anybody has got a chance of playing provided they’re in the right frame of mind and in good form. It keeps players focused and playing to the best of the ability every week.”
Winterburn added on the Spurs clash: “I think he’ll be starting, as it’s at home. We’ll probably switch to a back four and Ozil will play behind the striker, it’s a straight choice between Ozil and Ramsey.
“Particularly with Aaron’s contract situation. I look forward to seeing the team sheet, as I can’t predict Emery’s team sheet or formation.”
One man who will not be involved on Sunday, despite returning to U23 duty, is Laurent Koscielny, with a long-term injury victim being warned that he may struggle to secure a place in Emery’s plans when fit.
Winterburn said of the French defender, who has been sidelined since May: “I think it’s going to be difficult to bring Koscielny back in, he has been Arsenal’s outstanding defender since he joined.
“He had a bit a dip in form last year, but that could have been injury related. For a player with such a big injury, you have to watch his progress in reserve games and training.
“The big test will come when he returns to the first team and how he copes in the first team. If he comes back in the condition that he’s capable of, he’ll be the main defender in this Arsenal team.
“But they’ve coped well, with Rob Holding stepping up and [Shkodran] Mustafi mentioning the benefit of new training drills. There is positive signs and he won’t be rushed back.
“Unai Emery will pick on form, we’ve seen with other players who’ve missed out. I don’t think he’ll come back in and Mustafi or Holding will drop out.
“If everyone’s fit and in good-form, Emery might have a problem. But, Emery will always pick on form and with a focus on the opposition he’s coming up against.”
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