Silva tells Arsenal: Wenger should have walked in 2017 & Ozil has to play

A member of the Gunners’ ‘Invincibles’ squad has questioned some of the decisions made in north London from the recent past and in the present

Gilberto Silva, a title-winning star of Arsenal’s past, says Arsene Wenger should have walked away from the club in 2017 and Unai Emery needs to start playing Mesut Ozil.

The Gunners have seen the 2018-19 campaign become one of much change in north London.

A switch in the dugout was made last summer, with Emery taking the reins after 22 years of stability and continuity under Wenger.

An iconic coach stepped aside after seeing his side fail to finish in the Premier League’s top four in successive seasons.

A rebuilding project has been put in place, but Silva believes it should have started 12 months earlier on the back of a 2-1 victory over Chelsea which secured major silverware.

The Brazilian, who formed part of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04, told talkSPORT: “When Arsenal won the FA Cup against Chelsea that was a good moment for Arsene (to leave) in my mind.

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“But, of course, I know Arsene very well, he is a football man. He loves the game, and he loves Arsenal.

“You have to respect someone like that and let him leave on his own terms.

“At the time when he won the FA Cup it was also difficult to find someone to replace him.”

Arsenal eventually settled on former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery.

He has the club back in the hunt for Champions League qualification but has seen his hands tied by a lack of funds in the transfer market.

The Spaniard also has to contend with the unwelcome speculation surrounding Ozil’s future, with a lack of game time sparking transfer talk around the World Cup winner.

Silva believes there is a simple solution to that problem, telling talkSPORT: “He has to be on the field.

“A player of his calibre cannot be on the bench, in my opinion.

“People are always trying to find something to talk about Ozil – why is he not playing and, when he is playing, why is he not playing well?

“This kind of player, you have to give them responsibilities. What’s the best way to give him responsibility? Put him on the field!

“Right now it’s down to the manager. It’s a good challenge for Unai.

“What’s the best setup for the team? Why not find a way for the team to play and find a place for him, where he can be important for the team?

“I think for Arsenal fans it’s difficult to see him on the bench.”

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