Ozil is one luxury Arsenal must pander to if title is to come
When Mesut Ozil arrived at Arsenal for a club record fee of £42.2m, the move was greeted with delight by the majority of fans who had been calling for the recruitment of an expensive marquee player for several years.
Having lit up the international stage for Germany at the 2010 World Cup and subsequently pulled the strings for Real Madrid, where he lifted the Spanish title in 2011/12, the playmaker’s PremierLeague arrival was unanimously hailed.
It’s fair to say high expectations haven’t all been met since though. Despite picking up silverware in his first two seasons at the Emirates, Ozil has still copped a fair amount of criticism; maligned for his apparently mercurial performances.
Now the news has broken that Arsenal’s number 11 is demanding talks with his manager regarding his future, some fans of the club may even be willing to cash in.
That would be folly. Wenger has already been savvy by rubbishing reports that Ozil could leave this summer and there’s good reason for the Frenchman to appease the World Cup winner.
Ozil’s beef with Wenger appears to lie in his deployment. Being asked to fulfil a wide role too frequently rather than being granted the central berth he craves either as a genuine centre-mid or number 10 has rankled him.
The main problem Wenger experienced in accommodating Ozil last season was the emergence of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin as such an effective partnership in the heart of midfield.
Coquelin’s industry acted as the perfect foil for Cazorla’s technical wizardry and 11 assists followed for the Spaniard, who also got through plenty of unfashionable work seldom associated with Ozil.
The lack of space from deep ensured the latter was selected in every position across the advanced midfield three during an injury-affected campaign instead.
Tellingly though, he found a groove in the latter part of the 2014/15 season as Arsenal clicked, sailing comfortably into third with Ozil almost exclusively operating centrally behind the striker.
Although he only managed to start 21 Premier League games in total, the graceful German still chipped in with five assists, four goals and according to WhoScored.com threaded more key passes per game than any other in an Arsenal shirt.
A lack of flashiness sometimes gets misconstrued, especially alongside the likes of Alexis Sanchez, whose goal-scoring prowess eclipsed all of Wenger’s charges last season.
The fact remains that Ozil is a high-class operator and when confidence is coursing through his veins there are few silkier players on the planet, so Wenger will be wise to deploy him as a 10 whenever possible.
The dividends could be Premier League-title shaped if Ozil hits the heights he’s capable of.
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