Former Arsenal star Alan Smith has claimed that Mesut Ozil will be dropped for the north London derby against Tottenham this weekend.
The German was omitted from Unai Emery's starting XI against Bournemouth due to the physicality of the game and Smith insisted it’s the right choice to keep him out of the Tottenham match as well.
The upcoming derby has been billed as one of the most significant in recent history for Arsenal, who have dropped out of the title picture altogether in the past two seasons. Tottenham meanwhile are on the rise, finishing as the top club in north London in consecutive campaigns after failing to do so once in 22 years prior.
As quoted by the Express, Smith said: “Mesut Ozil - was left out at Bournemouth last week, the suggestion being that he wasn't suited to the physical battle expected. If Unai Emery sticks with that thought process, it's difficult to see how Ozil gets a game here."
He didn't say the same is true of Spurs’ playmaker Christian Eriksen though, despite the suggestion that he is carrying a knock ahead of this game, adding: "It could be that the clever Dane is carrying a slight niggle. But after his super sub appearance on Wednesday night saw off Inter, I would be amazed if Eriksen didn't start this one."
Smith also said that the key battle for Arsenal will be at the back, an area that has failed them so many times in recent seasons. He said: "Should the Gunners defend like they did against Liverpool, they'll be in with a great shout. But defend like they did against Wolves and things could get ugly."
Arsenal won this fixture 2-0 last season and will be hoping to maintain their pride at home and close the gap on their rivals. A victory here for Tottenham though would represent an improvement as they are still chasing their first piece of silverware under Mauricio Pochettino.