Arsene Wenger: What does he do with Mesut Ozil’s insipid displays? by SE
Arsenal played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Manchester City at home in the Premier League last Saturday, as both sides went hammer and tongs at each other, to show for a just a point apiece in the end. Players from both sides gave it their all, literally, and were up for the battle from the first whistle to the last. They kept running about and, in what was an unusually feisty encounter between two beautiful Footballing sides, weren’t hesitant to get physical, either. Arsenal, other than Mesut Ozil, were terrific and, had it not been for some flimsy defending in the last 10 minutes, could have pulled off a remarkable result. However, with Ozil struggling to live up to the pedigree he came into the Emirates with, how does Wenger persist with German playmaker?
Systems, Ozil’s role, and his position in the system mean so very little. It’s whether he can play his normal game, and harness the work rate the likes of Sanchez, Ramsey and Welbeck make up for the lack of his. Ozil, so very unlike of him, is clueless with his passing, positional sense and, finally, his unwillingness to try that extra bit. Ozil’s pass accuracy against Manchester City was a meager 81%, in addition to the couple of chances he created in the whole game.
Now, if you’re Wenger, as much as you would love the work rate and creativity your players render, Ozil’s ‘disinterest’ should not put off the other 10 men on the pitch. The problem with the German is not so much about the intricacies of Football, or his role as a playmaker; it’s largely about contributing to the team’s cause, which, going by his display against Manchester City, doesn’t suggest to me that he is ever going to rectify.
Coming to the much maligned system, which, at the moment, is forcing Ozil to play on the wings, I don’t think the former Los Blancos man is expected to stretch the pitch by holding the byline and swing crosses into the 18-yard box. Like all playmakers, he is given a free role and, in that sense, it’s about making his own ‘space’, which can happen only if you’re willing to stick it out for your team.
The Way Forward
Ozil’s form will surely concern Wenger and, in the long term, could cost him some results, too. We all have seen the effect a red card and the consequent loss in personnel can have on a team; in Ozil’s case, it’s more or less the same scenario as handicapping the team despite staying on the pitch.
Since much is made of the formation Wenger is deploying, following the capturing of Sanchez, here’s a system he could possibly use, to get the best out of Ozil: Play 4-4-1-1, with Ramsey and Wilshere as the two midfielders. Ramsey’s box-to-box capabilities will complement Wilshere’s offensive flamboyance, whereby one can motor forward, and the other can sit deep and render defensive balance. Sanchez plays as the left or right winger, with Chamberlain, Podolski or, when Walcott returns, playing on the flank opposite to the Chilean’s. Ozil plays behind Welbeck or any other Arsenal No.9.
I assure you that, though Ozil can get back to playing in his favored position – behind the striker – his ‘disinterest’, irrespective of where he plays, will not bode well for himself or Arsenal.
Ozil’s form is critical to Arsenal and Wenger. Despite his ‘no show against Manchester City, Arsenal faring so brightly can be a positive; but, his body language, and the subsequent effect it could have on the mindset of other players is one that needs to be looked into.