The former Gunners midfielder has suggested that there is no place in a new era at Emirates Stadium for creative ball-players who do not press
Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan no longer fit the Arsenal mould, says Paul Merson, with Unai Emery having moved on from Arsene Wenger’s ball-playing philosophy.
The Gunners forged a reputation under their former boss for being pleasing on the eye, with plenty of emphasis within the transfer market placed on the acquisition of creative influences.
Those at Emirates Stadium faced accusations of lacking the stomach for a fight as they struggled to turn their style into substance, with Emery having been drafted in to help try and turn the tide.
Results have not gone his way so far, but the Spaniard is looking for his team to work harder than they have been accustomed to, with questions being asked of leading playmakers as a result.
Former Arsenal midfielder Merson told Sky Sports of the shift in approach: “He [Emery] hasn’t got the players to have a 20-yard gap between defence and attack, working hard. Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not those type of players.
“If you were building a team tomorrow, you’d want to play a high pressing game, work as a team, not to have gaps between the lines, and you’re not buying Ozil and Mkhitaryan.
“If you go the Arsene Wenger way, wanting to play entertaining, free-flowing, great football, then Ozil and Mkhitaryan will walk in any team in the world. But they will not get in teams that want to press!
“I don’t know if the current crop have gone past being able to learn that way of playing. That’s my concern. I don’t mean regarding their age, but in the way they play the game.
“Ozil’s future? I don’t know. I’m a big fan of him, he’s a quality player, but sometimes you watch him and the game passes him by.”
While Emery remains pointless after two Premier League games at the Arsenal helm, Merson believes he can be considered a touch unfortunate as misfiring players have been the ones holding the Gunners back.
He added: “Let’s be honest, if Arsenal had put the chances away against Chelsea – and it’s easy to say: ‘Oh that’s a half chance’ – but they had five unbelievable chances at Stamford Bridge.
“If they put those away, they come away from the Bridge winning 7-3, and everyone would be saying: ‘Wow’.
Click Here: Geelong Cats Guernsey
“I thought Emery took a bit of unfair stick from the first game against Man City. Who expected them to beat Man City?
“But on Saturday, you can’t legislate for misses like that, you just can’t. You could have Mourinho, Sir Alex, Wenger, Klopp and Pep on the bench; if you’re missing chances like that you won’t be winning too many games.”