Arsenal barely laid a glove on Manchester City in Sunday’s 3-0 Carabao Cup final defeat.
Few people thought the Gunners would come out on top at Wembley. Not against the best side in the country. But it’s fair to expect a much better performance in a cup final.
Mesut Ozil was key to Arsenal’s hopes. City were always going to dominate possession, but the German has the ability and composure to make the most of his time on the ball.
However, he didn’t have any impact on proceedings. And Arsenal’s attacking play never really got going as a result.
Following Alexis Sanchez’s departure, there’s no doubt he’s the best player in the squad. He recently became the best-paid player in the club’s history too.
But if the club are going to challenge for major honours again, he needs to be more consistent.
The 29-year-old has been superb at home in big games against Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool this term. He’s not been anywhere near as good against top-four rivals on the road.
Critics often say he needs to do more defensive work to compensate for Arsenal’s flaws. But that’s missing the point. Arsene Wenger should be able to build a system that masks Ozil’s weaknesses instead of highlighting them.
There is no doubt Arsenal need their star player to step up though. Their season’s in danger of falling part before the start of spring.
The North London club are currently sixth, 10 points off the Champions League spots. They were dumped out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest too. The Europa League could salvage their campaign, but they have a tricky tie against AC Milan in the last 16.
Before that, they face Manchester City in league action at the Emirates on Thursday as 13/4 underdogs. It’s an ideal opportunity for Ozil to remind people how good he can be.
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