LONDON. – Mesut Ozil scratched the top of his head and looked to the ground as he traipsed off the field almost in slow motion. Ozil isn’t used to being substituted at Arsenal – especially not in the big games and with the result in the balance – but these are changing times at the English Premier League soccer club, where there is a new manager, a new style of play and new demands.
For so long one of the main men at Emirates Stadium, Ozil now might have to fight for his place in the team. And about time, too, some would say.
Few players in the Premier League divide opinion as much as the 29-year-old playmaker, whose languid, often-unhurried approach can be so pleasing to the eye but also makes him a target of critics questioning his commitment.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was prepared to indulge in Ozil’s mercurial nature, saying the midfielder was misunderstood and could do things with the ball most others couldn’t.
Even if it appeared to fly in the face of what many were seeing on the field.
Unai Emery, Wenger’s replacement, might be different.