Mesut Özil quietly goes about being better than Philippe Coutinho

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Football News

Liverpool's defeat of Manchester City at the weekend was hugely impressive and the winning goal from Philippe Coutinho was simply outstanding. He has been getting plenty of praise for his performances recently, with many getting rather excited about his progress.

It has even led to some suggesting he is approaching becoming the leading attacking midfielder in the Premier League, but this is wide of the mark - he's not even better than Mesut Özil.

The Arsenal man has been subject to so much scrutiny and criticism since his arrival from Real Madrid in a £42million switch in 2013, with most of the barbs thrown at him being unfair.

This isn't to say that Coutinho is not a fantastically talented player, of that there is no doubt, but when you look at the manner in which he is being regarded at the moment compared to Özil, it is an indicator of the short-sightedness of Premier League fans.

Two sensation goals in two very impressive wins for Brendan Rodgers' men, against City and Southampton, added to some energetic play, have been getting some people giddy over what he is doing.

Meanwhile, groaning about Özil's demeanour and complaints about him supposedly not justifying his price tag continue to pour fourth. The Germany World Cup winner is the antithesis of what fans of the English game are addicted to seeing from the top players.

Coutinho is all agility, eye-catching dribbles and the odd spectacular goal - though it hasn't taken much of this to declare him a world-beater. We see his swashbuckling style and are overjoyed. Here is a man ready to take on any number of opposition players, pulling the strings in another Liverpool victory.

Facts Say Something Different

But the facts don't really bear this out. Perhaps it is a case of flavour of the month, but the premature writing off of the Anfield club and their new signings earlier this season, appears to be happening in reverse.

In 24 Premier League appearances this season, the young Brazilian has scored four times and laid on four assists. Meanwhile, Özil has made five assists and scored three times in half as many games - there is also this statistic regarding assist to minutes played ratio.

The numbers tell us that Özil is significantly more effective as an attacking midfielder than Coutinho, but try and tell anyone that this weekend. It is the beauty of football and the tradition of a dominant player in England that allows this difference in opinion to go on.

We can become distracted by body language; Özil's is clearly a problem for some Arsenal fans and for some reason the manner with which you charge around the pitch makes a difference.

Enough Of A Shift?

In the 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday the World Cup winner covered more ground than any other player, and yet he is regularly criticised for not defending enough and not 'putting a shift in' - possibly the most disagreeable phrase in the Premier League lexicon, as if industry alone is sufficient for a top level football match.

He is also criticised for not dominating matches enough, but doing so is usually someone exerting the force of their personality over a match, taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Steady Brilliance

But Özil dominance of games matches that of his own nature. He is understated, quietly going about bringing a consistent level of quality to the keeping of possession and, as the stats show, creating goals for his teammates.

That is not to say that he's never had a bad game, he certainly has, but a failure to affect the outcome of a match in a meaningful way is compounded by his lack of any ostentatious bustling.

Coutinho is a brilliant and entertaining player, but Özil's brand of steady, unassuming and slick excellence is proving more valuable.

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