In theory Arsenal’s 1-0 win over West Ham United on March 7 ought to be defined by one particular facet. Seven months on from the dreary victory at the Emirates Stadium it remains the last time that the Gunners’ faithful saw their team in action.
And yet there is already a sense that this match will take on a rather different position in Arsenal’s history. Increasingly it seems inevitable that this game will be the final time Mesut Ozil donned the red and white shirt.
Certainly it will not be the final act of this saga, one that since that game has seen him: named as among those who refused to take a pay cut, sidelined by Mikel Arteta for reasons as yet not entirely clarified and offer to pay the salary of Jerry Quy, the man in the Gunnersaurus outfit, after the club made him redundant.
It is becoming ever more difficult for Ozil to get back out onto the pitch. He has been left out of the Europa League squad and is expected to be excluded from the 25 man Premier League group when it is named later this month.
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Arsenal would dearly like to come to some agreement to end his contract, an offer to Ozil which has been on the table for some time. He has shown no inclination to take it up.
A relationship that began with the deadline day delirium of 2013 and reached its high note early in the 2015/16 season, when Ozil looked like he might assist his team-mates all the way to the Premier League title, is ending in the ugliest of divorces. Trenches have been dug deep by supporters of both sides and there is little anyone can do to change the mind of the most extreme wings of these rival factions.
At times it seems there are few riskier paths to take on the internet than to wade out into the no man’s land between Ozil’s supporters and their opposition to suggest there may be nuance and grey area to the debate. And yet the World Cup winner’s last…