As Arsenal fans, we have all become used to seeing Arsene Wenger play some of the Arsenal players in unfamiliar positions. Now I realise that the Frenchman knows a lot more about football than me and he has had some amazing success, especially in turning Thierry Henry and the traitor RvP into central strikers, but it does not always come off so well.
Andrey Arshavin is a prime example, while Jack Wilshere’s games out wide last season did not help him or the club. But I can still understand why he has used Mesut Ozil in wide areas at times, with the German’s speed and technical ability able to cause problems on the flanks and his eye for a pass able to create chances.
The German, however, is not so sure, as he explains in a report in The Telegraph. He believes that a lot of the criticism he got from the German press before and during the World Cup finals, was down to his being played on the left rather than through the middle or even on the right flank. Maybe this is just a little reminder to Wenger as well.
Ozil said, “I’m one of the best players in the world in that No 10 position. Fans, coaches, players and everyone knows that my best position is playmaker.
“It’s different playing on the left. When I was in Madrid, I often played on the right. I enjoyed that because I’m left-footed and I was able to cut inside to give assists and get shots on target. On the left, it’s more difficult. If I do get past someone I’m still away from the danger zone, still on the flank, and it’s harder for me to find the final ball with my right foot than with my left.
“But Joachim Löw needed me on the left. It’s not about the individual, it’s about the team. It’s not my favourite position but I was willing to play there for the team. It was difficult just before the tournament started that I was suddenly playing on the left and had a different role. I needed to get my bearings, which I did. I think I did my job well there. The Boss saw me as being able to play on the right and we ended up as world champions.
“The opinions of fans are important to me and I’m happy they have such high expectations of me. I have high expectations of myself. I know what I can do and in the past few years I’ve shown that I belong to the select group of best players in the world as a No 10. What’s important is that the manager gives me his trust and in Joachim Löw and Arsène Wenger I have two managers who do exactly that. Both coaches know that my favourite position is the No 10. I’ve played on the left in a World Cup and for Arsenal but my best performances come as a 10.”
I think we can all agree on that and it is good to hear Ozil appreciating the support he gets from the Arsenal and Germany fans. Let’s hope for a more consistent season from him this time, which I’m sure we will get, and that he can help the Gunners to another trophy or two.