After seeing Arsenal‘s restart optimism washed away in a Manchester downpour, Mikel Arteta spoke of needing to ‘delete the 3-0 loss from the hard drive’.
Arteta no doubt wishes he could do something similar with Mesut Ozil.
The German didn’t even make Arsenal’s 20-man squad at the Etihad Stadium with the Gunners manager answering ‘tactical reasons’ when pressed for an explanation.
Not many words but it spoke volumes for the absurd situation Arsenal find themselves in with a player who costs them a cool £350,000 each and every week yet doesn’t even make the squad for one of the biggest games of the season.
With the enforced three-month break promising to throw an element of chaos into the Premier League season, Arsenal might have sniffed an opportunity to inflict a rare defeat on City.
And so, logically, you’d want your top earner and by extension one of your best players, to at least be there on the night.
But no – Ozil wasn’t carrying an injury but was left at home anyway. Not trusted to make an impact against City, it would seem.
In truth, Ozil would likely have done little to change a nightmare return that saw a 3-0 defeat compounded by two injuries and David Luiz’s kamikaze performance.
It is incredibly difficult to recall the last time he put in a game-changing performance and this season has just underlined why Arsenal need to get him out of their squad and off their wage bill at the earliest opportunity.
In 23 appearances and 1,812 minutes across all competitions this season, Ozil has scored one goal and contributed three assists.
He’s made 1,051 passes – an average of 45.7 per match – and a grand total of 20 tackles, which equates to the token effort of almost one per game.
Ozil brings in £350,000 each week and, let’s not forget, he was one of the Arsenal players who point-blank refused to take a 12.5 per cent pay cut when the coronavirus shutdown started.
That means in the 45 weeks since Arsenal’s season started on August 11, Ozil has cost the club £15.75million in wages alone.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Ozil is ambling along at a rate of £15.75m per goal this season and £5.25m per assist.
Every pass has cost Arsenal £14,986 and each tackle a whopping £787,500. By the way, 14 of his 17 tackles in Premier League games were fouls.
His 1,812 minutes on the field work out at £8,692 a minute but it’s the time when Ozil is sitting idle that must really stick in the craw for Arsenal.
Arsenal have played for 1,968 minutes without Ozil on the pitch, so they’ve paid him £8,003 per minute for not doing anything while a game has been going on.
During this time he may have been sat on the bench or, as happened frequently under Unai Emery at the beginning of the season, left out of the squad altogether.
Of Arsenal’s opening 10 Premier League matches of the season, he was named by Emery in just three squads and played a mere 71 minutes.
There were mitigating circumstances. Over the summer, Ozil and team-mate Sead Kolasinac were ambushed and threatened at knifepoint by attackers on mopeds in north-west London.
He was left out of the Premier League opener against Newcastle amid security concerns but otherwise Ozil was fit and available, just not selected.
Eventually, he returned to Emery’s favour in November but produced next to nothing in the games immediately prior to the Spaniard’s sacking.
And it’s fair to say that Arteta has given Ozil a second chance to reassert his class since coming in. Indeed, Ozil had started every league game under Arteta until Wednesday night.
But decent performances have been few and far between, with just one goal and one assist contributed by a player supposed to turn games in Arsenal’s favour.