It’s been well documented over the past few days, Mesut Ozil is in a rut at the moment.
The former Real Madrid man has had to endure a slew of verbal attacks as critics picking him apart following his tame penalty and an, overall, sub-par performance against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
Though after playing so many games in recent months, did we really not this coming?
Having become Arsenal’s most expensive transfer for a whopping £42million in the summer, the 25-year-old got off to a flyer at the start of his career in the Premier League. In just his first game he showed his class by masterfully plucking a 50yard pass out the air and played in Olivier Giroud for a relatively easy finish.
His home debut was even better as he had a hand in all three of Arsenal’s goals versus Stoke City, providing to deliveries to find Per Mertasacker and Bacary Sagna. While his third assist came after his free kick stung the goalkeeper’s and hands ricocheted right into the path of Aaron Ramsey.
That kind of play quickly endeared him to the supporters and manager Arsene Wenger has been determined to get the most out of him, playing the midfielder for the full 90 minutes 20 times out of a possible 32.
On Wednesday night the Frenchman opted to sacrifice Santi Carzola when Wojciech Szczesny was given his marching orders, choosing to stick with the Ozil instead. He cited the German’s ability to create something out of nothing when asked why he made the decision, despite a run of bad games and missing a penalty earlier in the match.
“The circumstances of the game were difficult, said Wenger. “I left him on because he’s one of the few players who go from far, from distance when you’re down to ten men. [Travel] long ways with the ball and carry the ball into the opponents’ half.
"Of course when you look back at the game the penalty obviously had an influence on his performance.”
Ozil, not particularly known for his work rate, did rank third in distance covered at the Emirates Stadium-trailing only Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere. But in all honesty, it wouldn’t have been that difficult considering midfielders tend to rank quite highly in the category anyway.
Plus it’s still up in the air as to how much cover he actually provided for Nacho Monreal as Bayern Munich absolutely feasted on the left back. Especially in the second half when the German outfit had 88 percent of the possession. In fact, Philipp Lahm’s two assists came from the Gunner’s left wing as the Bayern Captain strolled through some pretty flimsy defending.
Anyway, I digress.
The point is Mesut Ozil has never been a player with immaculate fitness and Arsene Wenger has simply been asking too much from him lately amid all the injuries to a squad severely lacking in high quality depth. I know it sounds like a too simple an answer but it’s true.
Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla – the list goes on- have all missed sometime this season through some sort of ailment and Ozil has been the one relied upon to make up for the lack of creativity.
The increased responsibility and work load has taken it’s toll. The decline in talent surrounding him probably hasn’t helped either.
With Olivier Giroud as the only No. 9, Wenger has featured youngsters Serge Gnabri and most recently Yaya Sanogo in his place. That is a pretty sharp decline in quality not matter how you look at it. Sure they will try hard and show glimpses of quality from time to time, but that’s still not enough to compensate for the loss of Giroud. No matter how wasteful he may be.
Even the more experienced stand-ins like Lukas Podolski don’t quite cut it as the lone striker.
The Gunners now face an unenviable stretch of games in soon with an F.A. Cup quarterfinal tie against Everton, a return leg at the Allianz Arena versus Bayern, the Derby game against fierce rivals Tottenham, followed by a match-ups against title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, before facing the Toffees again at Goodison.
But before then they face Sunderland and Stoke City. Hopefully that will give Ozil ample time to recover and regain his wits because Arsenal will certainly need him at his best.
Though as the saying goes: “Form is temporary, class is permanent.” Mesut Ozil certainly has the class.
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