Despite not picking Mesut Ozil since the Premier League resumption, Mikel Arteta said the Arsenal welcomes a player of his ability.
Ozil was featured in all Arsenal games under Arteta until the Premier League was suspended in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, but after the resumption, he has not yet played.
A back injury kept the midfielder out of the matchday squad for the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Sheffield United last weekend and the 4-0 triumph over Norwich City on Wednesday.
Arteta deployed a 3-4-3 for the Canaries’ visit to the Emirates Stadium and believes that Ozil, primarily used as a number 10, might still be useful in that formation.
“Sometimes it’s not just about what we want to play or how we want to play. Sometimes we have to try to fit the players we have available in the right moments in the right positions to perform and be comfortable on the pitch to do what we require them to do,” said Arteta via.
A quality player like Mesut Ozil will always have a place at Arsenal whatever system they play, says Mikel Arteta.
“I think players can adapt to different systems and we can adapt systems for different players,” he said. “There’s always a place for a player of his [Ozil’s] quality.”
The day the club announced that he had signed a new contract, Bukayo Saka did also not feature against Norwich.
Asked for Saka’s best position, he said: “Evolving, getting better and getting to understand different positions, and finally we will fit him in in one that gives the best.
“But at the moment we need him to float a little bit because he gives a lot of versatility to do different things even with the same shape.
“He understands the position really well, he picks the movements and the situations and when to use the spaces really, really quickly.
“He’s very intelligent and I think it’s a really good thing for his development to do that.”
Saka has scored three goals and provided 11 assists in 33 appearances in all Arsenal competitions this season, leading to suggestions that he might force his way into the England squad for the Euro 2020 next year.
Since breaking through this season, the 18-year-old academy product has been used in offensive and defensive positions on the left, with Arteta yet to decide where to play in the long run.
“I don’t know,” said Arteta when asked if Saka should be looking to nail down a spot in Gareth Southgate’s team. “He should keep performing like he’s doing, keep training, keep improving, trying to be the best in training, as he can every day.
“If he does that, we know the potential he has and things will come to him naturally.”