Mesut Ozil is a “luxury player”, admits Paul Merson, with Arsenal considered to be doing themselves few favours in freezing him out and edging him ever closer to the exits.Speculation regarding a January move away from north London for the World Cup winner is building.That is because he has slipped out of favour under Unai Emery and is struggling to earn a place in matchday squads, never mind starting lineups. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career Merson is puzzled as to why a proven performer is being ostracised, with the 30-year-old still the most talented option that the Gunners have at their disposal.The former Arsenal star told the Daily Star of goings on at Emirates Stadium: “Mesut Ozil should be starting Arsenal ’s next few games so they can take advantage of how badly Tottenham and Manchester United are struggling.“Arsenal have to make hay while the sun shines and their rivals are struggling, so they have got to put some points together in these games and go on a run.“It’s a big few weeks for them – and that’s why I would play Ozil. I personally think he’s their best player. In terms of ability and talent he’s the best player at the club.“He’s a luxury player, and the manager has obviously decided he can’t carry a player like that in a team that’s already one of the worst around without the ball.“But with these games coming up, Arsenal are going to have 70% of the possession. He thrives in those situations.“Unai Emery should bring him in from the cold. But he won’t. If he plays Ozil and they win, he has to keep playing him, and the manager doesn’t want that. The manager wants him out.“And if that’s the plan then they are going to have to swallow a pill and get rid of him in January come what may. He’s on £350,000-a-week and he’s not playing and doesn’t look like having any chance of playing. I think that’s a mistake.“But if Emery has made his mind up, Arsenal are going to have to find him a move – and they will have to subsidise his wages to do it because no-one else is playing him that.”Merson added on Ozil, who has taken in just two appearances this season: “I thought Ozil was Arsenal’s best player against Watford and he hasn’t played since. That shocked me to be honest.“If he’s showing it in training, he will be embarrassing a lot of the other players there, trust me. But he’s not getting picked.“I’ve had plenty of arguments about this with people who say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t work hard enough’ – and that’s the way the game’s gone these days.“But I would still play him in these games. It was madness giving him the money they did. And they won’t be able to sign a lot of players until his wages are off the books. But I still think he’s a proper player.“Will we ever see Mesut Ozil ripping it up somewhere else? It’s hard to say because you’re only as good as your team-mates and it depends where he goes.“But he’s not finished just because he’s hit 30. He still has more to give for me and could be a success somewhere else.”
The Toronto stock market was higher Thursday amid rising commodity prices and positive U.S. economic data.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 44.1 points to 12,652.92 while the TSX Venture Exchange dipped 0.73 of a point to 1,229.47.The Canadian dollar was up 0.07 of a cent to 101.48 cents US.U.S. indexes rose as weekly applications for unemployment benefits hit a five-year low and U.S. home construction surged last month.But the Dow industrial average was pressured by earnings disappointments in the banking sector and further Dreamliner woes for aircraft maker Boeing Inc. The blue chip index was up 53.85 points to 13,565.08.The Nasdaq composite index gained 13.06 points to 3,130.6 and the S&P 500 index rose 5.46 points to 1,478.09.Builders broke ground on U.S. houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 in December, up 12.1 per cent from November. The report capped off the best year for U.S. home construction since the real estate meltdown.“There is no denying that the housing market recovery is solidifying, and we expect construction activity to ramp up to the one million annualized threshold by the end of this year,” said TD Bank economist Michael Dolega, adding the improvement in the housing sector is good news for the jobs picture.“The strengthening housing recovery appears to have shown up in construction employment, which rose 30,000 in December. With sectoral employment down over two million off its 2006-07 peak, we expect the construction sector to add more than half-million jobs over the course of this year.”Weekly unemployment benefit applications in the U.S. fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000. That’s comparable to numbers seen just after the recession began.The weekly numbers are subject to a lot of seasonal volatility, but the overall trend suggests an improving landscape.Boeing shares lost further ground, down 0.9 per cent per cent after American and European authorities grounded the company’s 787 Dreamliner, its newest and most technologically advanced airliner, until the risk of battery fires is resolved. The plane makers stock dropped 3.4 per cent the day before.Japan’s two largest air carriers voluntarily grounded their 787s on Wednesday following an emergency landing by one of the planes in Japan.On the earnings front, Bank of America was dragged down by mortgage settlements in the fourth quarter, though it had already warned its shareholders of that. But it fell well short on revenue expectations and shares edged down three per cent.Citigroup registered a big earnings miss, with earnings per share of 69 cents ex-items against the 96 cents that analysts had expected and its shares were down 2.8 per cent.The consumer discretionary sector led TSX gainers, paced by strength in auto parts companies. Linamar Corp. (TSX:LNR) gained 69 cents to $26.10 while Magna International (TSX:MG) climbed 86 cents to $53.The base metals sector was up 0.5 per cent as March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose five cents to US$3.65 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) rose 23 cents to C$21.14.The chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto PLC and another senior executive are stepping down after the company announced huge writedowns from its Alcan aluminum business and an acquisition of a coal company in Mozambique.The company disclosed that it will take an impairment charge of approximately $14 billion in its 2012 results to be published on Feb. 14, including about $3 billion on the acquisition of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique, and $10 billion or more on the value of Rio’s aluminum assets, primarily Alcan. Its shares were off 11 cents to US$54.92 in New York.Oil prices headed higher, building on Wednesday’s gain of almost $1 after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude supplies declined by one million barrels last week. Analysts polled by Platts expected a 2.5-million-barrel climb.The February crude contract gained $1.05 to US$95.29 a barrel and the energy gained 0.4 per cent. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) advanced 27 cents to C$29.01.Prices were also supported by an attack on a natural gas plant deep in the Sahara desert in Algeria. Islamist militants are holding dozens of hostages.The tech sector gained 0.35 per cent with CGI Group (TSX:GIB.A) ahead 38 cents to $24.54.Telecoms were generally higher with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) up 23 cents to $42.89.The gold sector was the only TSX decliner, down a slight 0.3 per cent as February bullion erased early losses to gain $3.30 to US$1,686.50 an ounce. Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) faded eight cents to C$9.41.Looking ahead to Friday, traders waited for China’s growth data to help assess the strength of the global economy. China will release fourth-quarter growth data for 2012 as well as overall GDP figures for the year.In other corporate developments, Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) and the Malaysian state investment company are teaming up to purchase 98 per cent of a Malaysian life insurance company. Sun Life and Khazanah Nasional are purchasing the CIMB Aviva Assurance life insurance company as well as CIMB Aviva Takaful for a total shared cost of $586 million. Sun Life shares gained 28 cents to $28.22.H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:HR.UN) plans to acquire Primaris Retail REIT (TSX:(PMZ.UN) in a cash and stock deal valued at some $2.8 billion. Primaris owns 35 properties across Canada, including shopping centres in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario comprising some 14.7 million square feet. H&R units lost 47 cents to $23.32 while Primaris units added 18 cents to $26.69.European bourses were higher as London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.39 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 0.49 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 advanced 0.67 per cent.