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Tony Adams has urged Mikel Arteta to reinstate Mesut Ozil back in the Arsenal first team as he believes Thomas Partey’s defensive presence in midfield can allow the German to thrive.
The 33-year-old hasn’t featured for the Gunners since March and was left out of their Europa League and Premier League squads for this season.
Ozil responded to being snubbed by suggesting that the north London club have displayed a lack of loyalty towards him, while he insisted that will keep fighting for his place until his contract expires at the end of the season.
Arteta’s side once again showed their creative deficiencies as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates on Sunday.
The Gunners have scored a meagre nine goals in their opening eight Premier League games this season and they go into the international break in 11th place in the table.
The arrival of Partey on deadline day has boosted the north London side’s steeliness in the middle of the park. The £45million signing bossed the midfield in Arsenal’s impressive 1-0 victory away at Manchester United earlier this month.
And Gunners legend Adams feels Partey can ease the defensive burden on No.10 Ozil, whose work rate has been heavily criticised in recent seasons. ‘You’ve got a fantastic screen there now,’ Adams told Sky Sports. ‘Creativity may not be Partey’s game but what you have got is presence, you’ve got a leader.
‘I thought his performance against Man United was phenomenal. For me he was the best player on the pitch.
‘He got around the pitch, he covered, he doubled up on the defending, he kept the lines very narrow, all the defending principles of a holding midfield player were excellently done by this guy.
‘I was really excited. Watching that game for the first time in a long time I went, ‘wow, hallelujah’. ‘Ozil, for me, is one of the best creative players in the world. What he struggles with at times is the defensive side of the game.’
Adams pointed towards his former Arsenal team-mate Dennis Bergkamp as an example of a creative player that was allowed to shine with more defensively solid players behind him. And the Gunners icon wants to see Ozil feeding balls through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, like Bergkamp did for Thierry Henry.
‘To win the league we need great players,’ Adams added.
‘I asked Dennis Bergkamp now and again to get back in, get behind the ball, do a little bit and make it a little bit difficult for them. That’s all Ozil needs to do.
‘When you’re putting him on the sides and you’re asking him to go with runners and full-backs he’s not got that. But what he has got, if he played in this team now, is someone like Partey who can cover.
‘The times Dennis let people go and Patrick [Vieira] just slid over, or Emmanuel Petit, great leaders, great team players. That’s the stature, and Partey’s like that.
‘When you’ve got players in your team like that, I’ve always said Ozil is the cherry on the cake without the cake. We didn’t have a cake for so many years.
‘But now we’re getting some players in the team and there’s some stability there. There are signs where you can put the cherry [Ozil] on and pull strings for Aubameyang down the middle. I don’t think the other guys are working at the moment. ‘Like Dennis fed Thierry Henry, I think there’s loads of similarities there. I would love to see Ozil in behind feeding Aubameyang all day long.’