Arsenal's team bus returned to London Colney after a wholly predictable defeat to their Premier League rivals Chelsea. There was also a familiar smell surrounding Mesut Ozil.
The £42.4 million marquee signing went through another big game without making so much as a positive impact. The performance was further amplified by the display of former Gunners hero Cesc Fabregas.
Hitherto the best playmaker in the world, Ozil has seen himself fall far from that pedestal since signing a £130,000-a-week contract with the north London club. He seems to be struggling to adapt to play in a team that is not packed with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria; the latter now of Manchester United.
Meanwhile Fabregas has turned up at Stamford Bridge to critical acclaim, seemingly intent on proving Barcelona, and now Arsene Wenger, wrong. In return Jose Mourinho has offered him a position to make his own - the very position he thrives in; No.10.
It is an enviable situation for any player, and surely Ozil must be looking towards Stamford Bridge with a touch of envy. Would the Germany international prefer to be a Blue?
Mourinho is nothing if not a man with clear intentions. He has one goal in mind and that is to win trophies. He will spend the money required, cut the necessary players and make as many enemies as needed.
That fact must be comforting for a player. They know where they stand and in turn know what is expected of them. For Fabregas, it must have been an attractive proposition.
The Special One reportedly flew to Spain for a personal meeting with Fabregas as soon as Chelsea were told he was available. Mourinho asked Fabregas to sign for Chelsea and in return he would get pride of place in the Chelsea team. No messing about, just a No.10 position and an excellent striker ahead of him in the form of Diego Costa.
The team is built around both Fabregas and Costa. With seven assists for the former and eight goals for the latter, it is working. All the signs point towards Chelsea winning the Premier League at a canter.
Over at the Emirates Stadium, Ozil is being forced to do the rounds in Wenger's rotational team of wonder. One week he is on the left, one week the right. Rarely he will be afforded a chance behind the striker, and it will work.
Ozil's best performance this season was against Aston Villa where he scored one and created another, all from the centre of the pitch behind Danny Welbeck.
Against Chelsea, he was forced to drift across the forward three as the dynamism of Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla confused Arsenal more than Chelsea. It was a tactically inept display for Wenger and not the first of its kind.
Mourinho v Wenger
Working under the management of Wenger must be the dream for thousands of professional footballers. He was and remains one of the top managers in the world. Were he to leave Arsenal, he would have countless offers from elite clubs. Few would turn him down; Chelsea are one club who would.
That is because they have Mourinho, arguably one of the few managers considered superior to Wenger. The Portuguese has the mental edge over the Frenchman, demonstrated by an uncharacteristic act of aggression from Wenger in Mourinho's technical area.
It is now 12 games against Wenger without defeat for Mourinho and with his current squad, he is set to improve that record when Chelsea visit the Emirates in April.
Not only is Mourinho the superior manager, but he also holds Ozil in high regard. The pair were again seen chatting about old times after Sunday's demolition. Ozil and Mourinho quite clearly have a good relationship and they would no doubt jump at the chance to reunite.
Ozil played his best football under Mourinho at Real Madrid and the manager arguably helped shape him into the player he is today; or, at least, the player he was.
Again, it is pointless to suggest that Wenger is tactically inept, but there are growing frustrations within the Arsenal family that he is not adapting to football's changing face. In fact, since the 4-4-2 was marginalised, in favour of the 4-2-3-1 implemented by the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona a decade ago, Arsenal just have not competed with the best teams.
It is almost as if Wenger does not know how to build a squad to fit modern football. Ozil looks like an individual when playing for Arsenal. Someone who sticks out but is expected to make things happen nonetheless. Mourinho has achieved for Fabregas what Wenger has been trying to do with Ozil in a fraction of the time - simply finding a concrete spot for him.
Chelsea v Arsenal
Chelsea are looking good. Like, really good. In fact Jamie Redknapp went as far to say that this current crop of Blues stars are comparable to Arsenal's famous Invincibles team of 2003/04.
He said in his Daily Mail column: "The best side I ever faced were Arsenal’s Invincibles. They had quality all over the pitch, they were powerful and they hardly had any weaknesses. Now Chelsea are starting to look just as strong.
"I don’t know if Jose Mourinho’s team can go unbeaten, but when you look through the squad they have so many options in every position."
That is some compliment, but no one batted an eyelid at the suggestion simply because Redknapp is right. This is the first time in a long time that team looks capable of emulating Wenger's most treasured achievement; going unbeaten for an entire league season.
In that, Fabregas has walked into a readymade team. It was perfect for him. He needed to prove Barcelona wrong for selling him and Wenger wrong for rejecting him. With Costa up front, Fabregas would find assists easy to come by. Compare that to Ozil, who has been forced into bringing average players up to his standard with perfect passes.
The German completed three key passes in yesterday's match and 25 passes in the final third. In comparison, Fabregas completed two key passes and 18 passes in the final third.
Yet it was the Spaniard who got the assist and took the plaudits. Arsenal did not even have a shot on target. Ozil's contribution went to waste and, therefore, unnoticed.
It was a good performance on paper, but because of the inferior forward play from Welbeck & Co., Ozil woke up to yet more criticism. Fabregas, meanwhile, took a step closer to the PFA Player of the Year award.
Grass is greener
It must be tough for Ozil. Fabregas was in the same position as he was, just a season later yet landed the role of a lifetime with Chelsea. Had Real Madrid decided to keep him for another year, he would have probably landed at Stamford Bridge instead of the Emirates.
Meanwhile Fabregas would have returned to a hero's welcome at Arsenal where he would have begun the monumental struggle that Ozil is currently undertaking. Wenger, as always, has a long-term project in mind that may or may not reap success.
Mourinho is an express worker. He gets the job done for double the price but in half the time. Football is a game that only recognises the here and now and for that reason, Ozil would be feeling the slightest envy for Fabregas's situation. Who wouldn't?
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