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Ozil vs Emery: How long will Arsenal's new manager tolerate his No10?

COMMENT: At first glance, it's over. The Arsenal career of Mesut Ozil. Under Unai Emery. There's just no room for him in the new manager's system.

Yeah, he has that £300,000-a-week contract. And his new No10 shirt. But does he have a place in Emery's team? Indeed, does he even have the manager's confidence?

You can't derive much from a first preseason friendly. Particularly one of an 8-0 scoreline. But you can glean some hints of direction from the players in post-match - and in unison it was clear: Emery is switching things up.

It's about the press. The hard press. Defending from front to back. After his first days under Emery, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was eager to highlight it: The gaffer's running me ragged. He wants me to chase things down.

And that's the word coming from multiple sources inside London Colney. The players have never experienced such intensity in preseason. Not only does Emery want them flying by the time Manchester City come to town, he wants his players - off the ball - working at a level never before seen in an Arsenal shirt.

This is the approach that brought Emery success at Lorca, Almeria and Sevilla. Teams that always punched above their weight. Built from smaller budgets with lesser profile players. But they reached their potential under a manager who built his system on energy and graft.

Pressing? Working off the ball? That's just not Ozil's game. Well, not for now. Certainly not in Russia. And every day he stays away from the club, sunning himself on whatever secluded beach he's taken off for, is a day missed at establishing a relationship with his new boss.

The first time they'll come face-to-face will be for the flight check-in bound for Singapore. Ozil won't pull on his training kit until they're on the other side of the world.

Emery will want to give Ozil a chance. But he won't indulge him. One source says he's "total meritocracy". It's why Russia and Spartak Moscow was a flop. He wanted to choose his team on merit. But local authorities demanded local quotas. It was never going to work.

Post Boreham Wood, the manager said the right things. He viewed the German as "an important player", but there was also a warning: "For me it's the same for one player as it is for 25 players".

Which is what confronts Ozil now. There'll be no mollycoddling. He'll want his No10 to run. And run. And run. Think Kylian Mbappe. Different player, sure. Many inside the game would have you believe he should be nearest the opposition goal - and at all times. But not Emery - nor Didier Deschamps. How often did we see the World Cup winner in his own half this past month closing down players, carrying the ball away from his goal? The lad's workrate was phenomenal. But it's what you expect from an Emery player. And it's what will be demanded from Ozil.

The German could've done himself a favour last week. Cut short his break - like South Korea had Germany's World Cup - and made himself available to the new manager. Emery is a players' manager. He's not one who believes in a distance between the squad and the coach. He wants to get to know his charges. He'll have been doing that these past two weeks at London Colney. That decision to throw Calum Chambers into midfield on Saturday wasn't on a whim. He'd seen something in training and wanted to test it.

And he'll want to also see something from his No10. "To start with a good mentality", Emery said of Ozil over the weekend and to "start hard".

Which sounds like work. Hard, physical work. Something even Ozil's biggest allies cannot genuinely associate with the German. He's a wonderful talent, is Ozil. Outstanding on his day. But his strength is in possession. Running down a lost cause is almost beneath him.

However, that now needs to change. There's no passengers in an Emery team. No luxury players. Well, unless your name is Neymar...

But Ozil is no Neymar. And neither Joachim Low nor Arsene Wenger could argue he is a luxury worth indulging. The German needs to change.

And if he doesn't, under a new manager. At the start of a new era. Even 300k-a-week won't save him from the stands.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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