The interest from Gunners’ fans this week would have been on how Mesut Ozil fared. The Arsenal playmaker played a vital role as the World Champions Germany won a crucial match against Poland in the Euro 2016 qualifying match.
When the season started, Arsene Wenger came out supporting Ozil by saying that he would start in a central role so that the club can get the best out of him. And suddenly there was criticism everywhere. Ozil has never been immune of criticism and probably never will be.
His languid style never wins the supporters on a regular basis – especially when things go wrong. There would be questions about his application on the pitch and how he can fit into the more important no. 10 role.
One good thing for Arsenal is that Ozil started in his familiar role for Germany at the weekend. His performance has been really credible. Gotze and Muller may have grabbed all the headlines but it was the playmaker who orchestrated every attack.
The advantage Ozil had was that he was not asked to track back with the opposition players which meant he could keep his fitness through the match. This may not be the template for Premier League games but nevertheless an indication that Ozil can keep his fitness for the whole 90 minutes.
Ozil finished the game with 88% passing accuracy which is pretty good – especially since he completed 67 passes (Stats source: Opta). Again, statistics won’t tell the entire story but they tell a story that Ozil is not a spent force yet.
With the recent injury setback to Welbeck and with no striker signed in the transfer window, we may see Alexis Sanchez employed more in the striker role – to give competition to Olivier Giroud. This could mean more leeway to Ozil in his favoured role.
What does this mean for the Gunners? Just like it is not good to ditch a player after one game, it is not good to go gung-ho after one good performance. Ozil has a long way to go to prove his doubters wrong – including this writer.