It is not uncommon for Arsenal fans to be split on topics of conversation surrounding the club and it has always been a case that it’s followers have always expressed their thoughts on a vast array of subjects. Whether it be the question of where the club should be headed, #Wengerin or #Wengerout, price of season tickets and even down to individual players but recently there has been a question that has really bothered me as a fan 1st and a writer 2nd. It is the topic of Mesut Ozil, Ozil has divided opinion vastly since arriving from Real Madrid in the Summer of 2013 but do his critics have a case?
I have been a huge fan of what Mesut Ozil brings to the pitch and have been since I first watched him at Werder Bremen and I would be lying to you if I wasn’t buzzing when we finally signed him from Madrid for £42.5 million. I still have the same feeling and for me people that jump on the “Ozil is a flop” bandwagon that rolled into town a while ago now really need to look at what happens when he is absent from the Arsenal lineup and also the intelligence that he brings to the Arsenal attack.
Ozil does most of his good work off the ball and if fans took the time to watch the subtle positions that he takes up they would understand why the likes of Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo jump to his defence on a regular basis. Not only his movement but his passing accuracy and the type of passes he plays always keep the playing ticking over and asking questions of the opposition.
It is plain to see the argument, the haters of Ozil take one look at Alexis Sanchez and see his energy, his work ethic and more often than not his desire to defend but then they take a look at Ozil and ask themselves “why is he not doing the same as Alexis?” first you need to get that notion out of your head they are the same player, they offer different qualities so to compare the two is just nonsensical. There is a much reported myth that Ozil is lazy and ineffective, if this is the case then why is he ever present for Joachim Loew’s World Cup winners and everyone one that has played alongside him hold him in the highest of regard.
Alexis has his faults but they are almost tossed to one side because “he works hard” but for some reason just because of Ozil’s running style he is ridiculed as lazy and disinterested if this were the case surely his on the pitch stats would highlight this, unfortunately for the critics this is where their argument hits the proverbial fan.
For example many football fans that religiously follow the Premier League would say Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is up there with the best in Europe at the moment so if Ozil has under performed he would not be anywhere near Hazard in respect of chance creation, assists and the odd possession stat. Well he is and in some instances if you average out things such as total passes and other possession related stats it is not uncommon that he eclipses the Belgian.
Once you hit the doubters with the stats it is normally followed up with the bitter pill of “well stats can be manipulated to balance your argument”, this is true but I am still unsure on how this is even disputed. Ozil like Arsenal have improved this season especially in the big games. The perfect example of the anti-Ozil blindness could be seen in the 3-1 defeat against Monaco, this was a game Arsenal should have put to bed and won convincingly were it not for the numerous missed chances of Olivier Giroud who by the high standards he has set for himself this season he had a poor game to say the least, but there were even people blaming Ozil for this defeat. This is the same match that Mertesacker decided to wonder half way up the pitch leaving Koscielny exposed time and time again, the naive defensive display was the reason for the Champions League exit and nothing else. Ozil even was criticised for his display in the away leg, the away leg that Arsenal won 2-0 falling short on away goals yet again. These results were the fault of the whole team and not one individual and until fans realise that the real problem in these crunch games are a collective problem and possibly a mental stumbling block things will not change.
The Ozil criticism is unfounded and for me it just comes from fan frustration that the club has been stale for a decade with not much change, things are looking up the team now looks more resilient than it has for quite a while and with the promise of further funds in the Summer the hope will be a push to the end of the season and hopefully clinching a top 2 position which would only put Arsenal in good shape for next season.
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