Impediments of Ozil playing as a winger by SE
Arsenal’s problem with Ozil is one that is highly inter-dependent. He is a classical playmaker, who hardly ever strives for goals. Instead, he thrives on incision and deftness of passing, which creates a plethora of chances for his team’s forwards and box-to-box midfielders. Ozil, when he played at No.10 for Arsenal last season, had the luxury of controlling the pace of the game for the Gunners. He would anticipate Ramsey’s hunger for a goal, and feed him magnanimously. Giroud would run the channels, and the German would find him with an overhead pass, or a drilled one all along the surface.
However, with Arsenal and Wenger adopting the 4-3-3 system this season, Ozil, so far, hasn’t had the luxury of playing centrally, which, subsequently, has seen him struggle. Yes, on another side of the coin, one could argue that he might be a bit rusty and not yet hit his strides, which is true, but I just can’t see him being successful as a winger, or affecting the game positively for Arsenal. Here are the impediments of Ozil playing as a winger, both for himself and the team.
Ozil playing as a winger for Germany
One of the reasons Germany didn’t struggle with a misfiring Ozil was because they had the likes of Mueller, Schurrle and Gotze, who could play on the wings and, apart from that, had an eye for goal. So, despite Ozil playing on the wings and unsuccessfully at that, Germany had Toni Kroos pulling the strings in midfield; Khedira playing his box-to-box role to perfection, and Mueller and Klose combining brilliantly when the chance presented itself.
Arsenal, unlike Germany, rely heavily on Ozil for the functioning of the team, in a Footballing sense, which is why the German playmaker has to raise his game and come good for Arsenal.
The Gunners do have Sanchez, who can drift in from the wings to have a shot on goal; Put a cross in for Sanogo or Giroud to attack, which, subsequently, would make him the ideal personnel to play on the wings. Ozil doesn’t boast of those attributes. He doesn’t shoot cutting in from the Right-Wing and, even when he plays as a Left-Winger, he drifts in incessantly, making the pitch narrow, thus depriving Arsenal from creating a goal scoring chance.
Congestion in the final third of the pitch
Also, with Arsenal’s midfielders aspiring to drive forward, and finding themselves on the edge of the box, Wenger’s men would ideally need someone to maintain some sort of width on the flanks. Unfortunately, Ozil doesn’t seem to be the answer to that. This pattern was particularly palpable against Leicester, when Ozil cut in on his left foot and found himself in no-man’s-land. With the Leicester backline denying time and space for the German, he could play neither a square forward pass nor a back pass, which subsequently led to Konchesky and Schlupp stealing the ball repeatedly from German’s feet.
Poor defending as a winger
Ozil’s defensive work rate makes him liable to playing on the wings, too. When he is up against an explosive fullback, he doesn’t track back and help out his defenders. Everton game was a perfect example to this illustration. Coleman made a darting run on the outside of Ozil, who was caught napping, to head home Barry’s delicious cross in from midfield.
These talking points give Wenger a lot of thinking to do, as and when he decides to play Ozil on the flanks, again. The former Los Blancos man can’t be this ineffective for Arsenal; secondly, he has to enhance his defensive work rate.
It is a gamble that Wenger is willing to take, due to the number of wingers he has at his disposal and, to get the best out of the likes of Sanchez, and Walcott, when he returns. But Ozil needs to understand that Wenger can’t adopt a system specifically for him, and adapt to the changing dynamics of his team.