On deadline day of last year’s summer transfer window, Arsene Wenger pulled a Santa Claus on Arsenal fans all over the world by signing Mesut Ozil, the world acclaimed king of assists. While everyone was in awe that the French manager could break the club’s transfer record and pay £42.5m for Ozil from Real Madrid, the reality of playing in the very physical and fast paced English Premier League was lost on many. The World Cup winner was just perfect for an Arsenal side that lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona in 2011 as his very boisterous credential from his time in Germany and Spain for Real Madrid was very intimidating, creating goals and scoring a handful too. But, here we are, in the second season of the marquee signing, writing about the underperformance of the once celebrated midfield maestro.
Statistically, Mesut Ozil is very far from what he is capable of bringing in to the Arsenal squad and it becomes very puzzling especially when he always gets all the playing time. After assisting 6 goals in his opening 10 Premier League goals for Arsenal last season, Mesut Ozil has only created 3 in his last 19 games. This is very appalling as the expectation of making goals in abundance is very far from being met by the player. Now, many lovers of the player ascribe his underperformance to the misuse by the manager, Arsene Wenger. They have argued that Ozil performed best at Real Madrid playing just behind Karim Benzema, while Christiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria operated from the wings. But at Arsenal, he is constantly being deployed on the left wing of attack to accommodate Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey in the hole behind the top striker and this was said to have affected his game, drastically dropping his contribution to goal scoring. Other theories have said that the Arsenal formation at times and the fact that he doesn’t have the kind of quality he had at Real Madrid around him at Arsenal, are the reasons for his underperformance.
The player’s critics have on many occasions countered this excuse by claiming rightly that Mesut Ozil is a world class footballer and a professional that should make an impact in any position he is being deployed, plus the fact that he’s allowed the license to roam across the attacking part of Arsenal’s midfield. As matter of fact, Ozil spends more time on the right than the left as evident in the matches against Leicester City and Manchester City. More support was given to their argument by the performance of Cesc Fabregas who he supposedly came to replace as a creative force at Arsenal. Playing as a roaming defensive midfielder or as a box-to-box midfielder in the Chelsea midfield, Cesc Fabregas has provided 7 assists in 4 matches for fierce London rivals and his brilliant displays for the Jose Mourinho led side is even more of a factor to hit on Mesut Ozil for his lacklustre performances. Ozil has been described as lazy and not willing to improve.
However, the hype of the press may have a hand in all of this as the expectations that come with the hype isn’t met by the player. This has occurred many times to many players and only time heals this kinds of problem. It is just the best time for Arsenal fans around the world to support Mesut Ozil as the EPL is a difficult league to play in. In the EPL, the expectation from a player irrespective of nationality is very high and considering the fact that Ozil never faced this much pressure at Madrid-by virtue of him operating under the shadows of Ronaldo, Benzema and later Bale. Just as criticisms are somewhat bringing out the fine performances in Jack Wilshere presently, caution must be applied by Wenger and the fans, so as not to totally dampen the morale of this superstar and make him experience an Andrei Arshavin situation at Arsenal.