'I'm wondering about his mental strength' - Arsenal legend questions Mesut Ozil's place in Unai Emery's plans
Emmanuel Petit has questioned whether Mesut Ozil would get into the Unai Emery's first choice Arsenal team, after their stunning win against Tottenham in Sunday's north London derby was sealed in the absence their German play maker.
Ozil missed the 4-2 win against Spurs with what his manager described after the game as 'back ache', yet the club's highest paid player was not missed as Arsenal thumped their local rivals in a pulsating game at the Emirates stadium.
Now Petit has told us that Ozil may struggle to cement a place in Emery's long-term plans, as he looks to recover in time to get into contention for Wednesday night's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford after being left on the bench in Arsenal's previous Premier League fixture at Bournemouth.
"Ozil at his best is worthy of a place in most teams, but when was he last at his best?" asks Paddy Power ambassador Petit, in an exclusive interview.
"As a play maker, he has some very good qualities, but are we talking about the form of the player or the name and reputation of Ozil?
"Sometimes, it feels like we are looking at him as a great player because of his performances two or three years ago, but that doesn't matter now.
"This is why I was happy to see Emery leave him out at Bournemouth. He is picking the best team to win that game and not looking to keep a big ego in his dressing room happy.
"He dealt with enough egos during his last two years at Paris Saint-Germain to last him a lifetime and that cannot have been enjoyable, but Emery is at a club now that will allow him to follow his own path and it means every player needs to step up.
"Everyone brings up the money Ozil earns, but I don't give a s*** about that. This guy needs to be the match winner when Arsenal play the top teams and if he can't do it, then Emery has to pick someone else."
Ozil's future at Arsenal has been questioned after an uncertain start to this season, yet Petit believes Emery is trying to rebuild a player shaken by events that stretched beyond the football field last summer.
His retirement from International football was laced with accusations that he was isolated in the Germany camp due to his Turkish roots, with Petit suggesting the fall-out from a story that become highly political will have shaken the 2014 World Cup winner.
"I'm still wondering about his mental strength and where Ozil is right now after everything that happened for him at the World Cup last summer," continues the 1998 World Cup winner.
"He left the Germany team in very bad circumstances. It was a story that turned nasty and had racial elements to it.
"It takes time to get over something like that because we are not talking about football any more. I'm not surprised he is struggling this season and maybe he is psychologically affected by the events of a few months ago, which would be a concern."
Emmanuel Petit is a Paddy Power ambassador and you can read his views at news.paddypower.com