When Arsenal thought it couldn’t be worse and was hoping for a reprieve from injuries, they were dealt another major blow. It looked like only 3 points were lost against Chelsea but it seems much more was as news frittered in on Friday that the Gunners’ German playmaker Mesut Ozil has a knee injury and would be out for some months.
When I got wind of him going for a scan, I thought it was for a routine check up before the international break to see if he would be fit for national team duty but the result was shocking as the Gunners would now have to make do without him till 2015. It stands to be seen how Arsenal fans would take the news of the injury lay-off. In recent weeks, Ozil hasn’t really been a fans favourite at the Emirates as he has been accused of lacking zeal and effort on the field. Many have queried why Wenger has kept faith with him either on the wings and even in the playmaking position at the expense of Cazorla. Now that he is injured, their prayer seems answered. With his injury, Arsenal’s midfield which has been lightwieght in recent weeks now look paper thin. No Ramsey, Arteta and now Ozil. That leaves us with Wilshere (who is even an injury concern), Rosicky and Cazorla.
In the event of his injury, who plays the playmaking role? The obvious choice is Santi Cazorla while Rosicky and Wilshere could also be called upon to fill in there. With Ozil out of the way, hopefully, Cazorla would really step up his game and look to assert himself in that role before the German returns.
Another question that begs an answer is the issue of the left wing, how does Wenger solve it in the wake of the injury to Ozil? For most of the games he has played this season, Ozil has been deployed as a left winger much to the dismay of fans and pundits. In his absence, may be it is time for Wenger to play Sanchez there. The positive is that Walcott is closing in on a return from his long term injury and with that happening, Wenger won’t need to play Sanchez on the right wing. With Sanchez staying put on the left wing, chance opens up for Campbell to also prove his mettle. With Ozil in the fold, he was so down in the pecking order but now that he is out, Le Prof might see him as a back up for both Sanchez on the left wing and Chamberlain on the right wing. I expect to play more games between now and next year when Ozil would return.
Ozil’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for both Arsenal and the German. Injury to him means he is taken out of the firing line and that would help him rediscover his form and confidence. I expect him to return fitter and more confident. Might just be Arsenal’s joker in the second half of the season. Arsenal might just also be better for it. It has not been great first 7 matches for Arsenal with just 10 points out of a possible 21. Ozil’s poor form has been reason for it. Now that he is out, Wenger will be forced to put the right pegs in the right holes a la Sanchez (wings), Cazorla/Rosicky (Playmaker) and that could see the Gunners’ fortunes improve. 15 games in all competitions is enough to discover the winning formulae, hopefully Wenger gets it before he returns. It is never a happy moment to see a star injured but that of Ozil might just be a cloud with a silver lining.