Don’t blame Ozil for Emery’s mistakes against Everton

In defence of Mesut Ozil by GunnerJack

Mesut Ozil has been savagely criticised by many Arsenal fans lately, but please consider the question below to see if we really have the right to castigate his performance against Everton.

It seems to me that one vital aspect of that game has been overlooked. And this aspect can be answered by simply considering the following question:

If your boss asked you to do a job and then refused to give you the tools to do that job would you say that he treated you fairly?

Many people on here, after seeing the lineup for that game, correctly said that it was so bad that our chance of winning was remote. I would now just like to draw your attention to the ‘attack’ part of that lineup – the defence and midfield have already been crucified many times.

It is Mesut’s main job to create chances. That’s it. Tracking back/defending etc are ok but are not his primary objective. So the question then becomes: Given that lineup, who exactly is Mesut supposed to create chances for?

Lacazette? The lone striker easily marked out of the game by 2 or 3 defenders?

Auba? He’s on the bench so that option doesn’t exist.

Ramsey making runs into the box? He’s also on the bench so that option doesn’t exist either.

And with no one else making runs into dangerous positions I ask again – who was Mesut supposed to be creating chances for?

So Mesut is given a job to do without the tools needed to do that job. If you are going to play Mesut then there have to be outlets for his creativity and UE’s awful line up destroyed all hope of that!

If Mesut is played he needs AS A MINIMUM both Auba and Laca in front of him, and preferably someone like Ramsey making runs into the box as well as players taking up advanced positions on the wings and getting into the box occasionally. Then Mesut has a chance. Otherwise – no chance!

So please consider carefully before slaughtering one of our few world class players. Examine the circumstances when someone APPEARS to have a bad game. Sometimes, as in this case, things are not always as clear cut as they seem. UE and his pathetic negative lineup were to blame – not Mesut Ozil!



  1. I agree Gunnerjack. I said the formation was way to defensive with no outlets, and of course Ozil was missing we had no midfield to feed him the ball in the first place.

    The whole formation was wrong.

    1. l totally agree with what Gunnerjack is saying about Mesut Ozil, for him to play at his best he need’s the service up front with him.
      And if Unai Emery had done his homework propely before the game on sunday you’d know that the way Everton defend we should have had Lacazette and Aubameyang up front with Alex Iwobi
      on the left making his usual darting run’s through the opposition’s defence, l mean hasn’t he really exploded in to life this season, so come on Emery wake your idea’s up your doing a good job but we want more!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I don’t like the way the article tries to paint Ozil as immaculate in terms of his performance.Its being made to look like the other players are fault but hardly him.If Arsenal don’t try to at least sell him next season and replace him then I know we’ve not changed and the incompetence continues.
    Now to the issue, what in this world was Unai Emery thinking?Imagine Arsenal going away with a bad formation,unbalanced team and expecting to come away with the three points.Im not Ozil’s biggest fan but both he and Mkhitaryan do not fit in this system.Give him his favoured No. 10 role and let him play .I’m sick and tired of watching negative formation and ream selection.Our best attack this season involves: Auba,Laca,Iwobi and Ozil.Emery should ditch this average system and go back to the 4-2-3-1.

    1. Emery, his staffs and his players were responsible

      I think it’s better to forget the old 4-2-3-1 because Arsenal have been using it for more than decade and never got a major trophy in that period

      Most top European teams often use 4-3-3 without a no 10 now and Arsenal do not have to follow them exactly, but they could use 4-1-2-1-2 with a false nine instead

      1. I’m talking of a formation which properly accomodates all our best players.The 4-2-3-1 system allows us to accomodate all our best players and that is the formation he should be employing.That imo is our best formation which will incorporate Ramsey,Ozil,lacazette,Aubameyang and Ozil in the same lineup successfully.We need to go to Napoli with our full strike force.We can beat them but I fear this three back system shall be our downfall in that match.If we play a defensivelyt good team with that lineup we will struggle to break them down.

        1. I actually thought Ozil played well. He had zero support from the players around him. Elneny and Gundozi were totally outplayed in midfield. Maitland Niles was shocking as was Mhikitarynexcept for his one shot. Lacazette was fouled and was only interesting in fouling to get his own back which disrupted play. Ozil tried to get us going forward but the support around him continually lost possession. Those who disagree go back and watch the game. Very easy to turn around and blame Ozil. Leno also had a fair game. The bottom line is that as a team we were shocking.

  3. Well said GJ. I often wonder how Ozil would perform for say the likes of Liverpool with their solid back four and their dynamic front three.Then I consider the high work rate demanded by their Manager and Guardiola and I realise why they will never consider buying him.To be a successful football team you need a solid platform upon which you can depend.Unfortunately our defenders with the notable exception of Leno, are as dependable as our rail services.

    1. Even in the times he wasn’t tasked to press or defend what did he do?I for one couldn’t care less about his defending cause I laugh when I hear him being criticized about that.I’ve never known him to be that good at it.I care about his ability in attack which he hasn’t really shown much of this season and most of the previous ones too.

  4. Spot on gunnerjack. So much negativity on this site lately. Becoming a little boring if you ask me. I’ve defended ozil for 2 days at work now, at least there are ppl out there who saw his performance in the same way.

    1. Same here sue. I think there is a problem with Admin, it’s player ratings was completely biased and far from the true analysis of the game. I wonder if he even watched the game at all.

  5. He wasn’t the only one that is responsible for the defeat, but he is the angry mob’s favorite target. Because of his mega salary and his so-called high-level/ world class status

    He also rarely impressed and rarely able to turn over Arsenal’s bad situation in tough away games, since three seasons ago. He definitely cannot be Arsenal’s focal point in attacking at any tough away match, if the team needs consistency

    If he really cares for his career, he should have moved to a new place, maybe he could stand out again like Andre Gomes. Arsenal need big game and consistent players

    1. Yes and look at everyone else in away games…. I mean when exactly was the last time we won away in the PL? Not just down to Mesut… there are 10 others our there with him!!
      Where do you suggest he should have gone then (if he cared for his career!)

      1. He could have gone to Bayern Muenchen, Dortmund or RB Leipzig

        I believe he would settle quickly at one of those clubs

  6. I am a huge fan of Emery, but I agree that he had a very poor day at the office. It’s baffling how he can get so right at home, and so wrong away from home. Our home form has been so good, that we’d have secured 3rd by now if we just had a half decent away record.

    Mistakes Emery made against Everton, and what I hope he learns from it:

    1) Everton do not have a quality striker, so we didn’t need a back 3. Starting with a back 4 would have allowed for 3 in midfield to give is that control that we so badly missed.

    2) Why did he start Ozil? Emery has been doing the right thing by leaving Ozil out of away games, because he does nothing. I don’t understand why he risked Ozil in an away game again?

    3) Wrong choice of captain. Ozil is the exact opposite of what constitutes a captain. I actually believe that Emery knows he’s not captain material, but that he chose him to try and up his performance level. Sadly it didn’t work.

    4) Wrong team selection. Ramsey, and Auba should have started. If Emery was a little worried about Ramsey’s fitness, then Iwobi should have started.

    5) Iwobi should always start away from home for us. He’s the only one that really carries the ball, and tries to take people on. Great way of relieving pressure, even if there isn’t any end product.

    Given our away form, I think we need at least a 3-0 win over Napoli in midweek.

    1. when we blame Ozil for our failure we miss the point. The team has 11 players and a coach, who performed well and Ozil failed him so that you blame Ozil for the loss?
      The manager has failed to listen to advise that for the best outcome he must have Lacazzete and Auba upfront and have Ozil supply the balls and we’ve always performed well.
      Leave out Ramsey, Auba & Iwobi in the bench and expect wonders? Let’s get our act right and we shall not see any negativity.

    2. Thirdmanjw I appreciate your honesty in your post except that Ozil did not choose to be captain on the day. If Ramsey had started he would have been captain which I think is one of the major mistakes Emery did, we didn’t need two creative players (Ozil and mhiki). He need to realise that there is no week team when we are away. Ozil is our most creative player so I don’t know who else he could have chosen. He didn’t pick Ozil against many of the away games an we were absolutely outplayed. Choosing Ozil could have had a positive impact had Emery balanced the team better. Let’s hope he learns from this.

      1. There’s still this myth that we lack creativity when Ozil isn’t playing. If you look at our performances home and away, and especially in the big games, we are more creative without him. Ozil maybe our most creative player, but we seem to be more creative as a team without him. And Ozil is one of the least effective players in terms of defending, so it has made sense to leave him out. Our best performances on the road have come without him. The games against Utd, and Spurs being a perfect example.

          1. And we scored against Liverpool, and created some chances, if not many. So again, it was the defending that was the issue, not creativity. Exactly how would have Ozil stopped us conceding 5? Haha!

            1. Haha I believe we’ve had this conversation before ? he wouldn’t have, I don’t think anyone would have stopped the annual annihilation at Anfield!
              Anyhow TMJW it was only about a week ago you praised Mesut & said he’d really upped his game over the last 6 weeks or so! Don’t deny it ? I know somewhere deep down (like where the titanic lays) there is a tiny bit of you that likes Mesut!
              So are you back in the UK now?

              1. I admit that before Everton, Ozil has been one of our better players over the last 6 weeks, but look what happened yet again when he’s used in a tough away game. Even an in-form Ozil still cannot perform away from home for us. I’m just surprised that fans still cannot see this? And equally surprised as to why Emery used him?

                I guess the question is, how many more times does he have to play bad away from home for people to get the message?

                Yeah back for a few months, then finally move to Aus. Cannot wait! Although watching Arsenal over there is horrible because of the times.

                1. Wasn’t just Ozil though, the whole team had an absolute shocker!

                  Ooh alright for some hey?! Ha you’ll soon get used to being up in the middle of the night – just to see Mesut play in away games ??

            2. Zero errors leading to goals…
              Better than Iwobi who has 1.

              Recovered the ball 71 times in 20 games (Avg 3.55 per game), compared to Iwobi 30 in 28 games (Avg 1.07 per game).

              If we actually look at the facts then I find the real question becomes more like “Why isn’t Mkhi played in the number 10 role in away games?”

              Equally, he has 0 errors leading to goals, he has recovered the ball more than Iwobi and Ozil (104 in 20 games, avg 5.2 per game), this could be interpreted as Mkhi being better at recovering the ball and this helps us with possession.

              Avg passes per game (how involved)
              Ozil: 43.85
              Mkhi: 30.2
              Iwobi: 25.55

              Some of our better football has come with 2CF and a number 10 behind them, different style of number 10 for opposition IMO. While some people are calling for 4231 when away, I do wish to point out that we do not have the inside forwards to excel at this, the team has performed better with 2CF IMO. This doesn’t leave room for two wide players and a number 10, not when those wide players are not the best wide players. Ozil and Mkhi are both number 10s but different flair. Iwobi is poor, he isn’t good enough at shooting to be an inside forward and not involved enough to be the attacking outlet/number 10. Both Ozil and Mkhi are better at this. This matters in defense as it is a threat to the opposition when they are pressing us, either leaving them exposed to a counter which will have a higher chance of happening when the player gets involved (Ozil Avg passes means he is getting involved more than Iwobi) or not commit so many in pressing so high up and giving our deeper players more time/less pressure, this is where mistakes happen.

              I couldn’t help myself, sorry.
              Does that explain why Ozil can help the team out defensively by his active involvement?
              I support Ozil but I am a gooner, I realise that Mkhi may be the better man for away games in the number 10 role, he recovers the ball more and he will be in a dangerous area, nicely positioned behind Laca and Auba.

              Emery has to wake up, he has to set his attacking players up to be effective, when he undermines our attack then the team fails and it is painful. Look at our clean sheet games, look how Emery set the attack up to succeed and now ask if it is really a surprise we kept a clean sheet? We looked dangerous in all areas and they did cause problems when the opposition gave them chances… Which happened when they attacked hard enough or pressed too high up, leaving gaps behind them.

              1. As I keep saying, but we perform better as a unit, especially off the ball, without Ozil.

                I’ll say it again. Our best performances/results away from home have come without Ozil, and our creativity hasn’t suffered from his absence. That is a fact.

                Here’s our only wins away from home in the league, and our non defeats against top 6 away from home.

                Spurs 1-1 Brief Cameo from Ozil
                Huddersfield 1-2 No Ozil
                Utd 2-2 No Ozil
                Bournemouth 1-2 No Ozil
                Fulham 1-5 No Ozil
                Newcastle 1-2 Ozil started
                Cardiff 2-3 Ozil started

                So we’ve won more without Ozil, we haven’t struggled to score at all without Ozil, and our best performances came without Ozil (Utd, Spurs, Fulham).

                1. “So again, it was the defending that was the issue, not creativity.”

                  I should have started my post by highlighting this segment, I’m sorry.

                  I was talking defensively and it does feel strange to say that we are defensively better with Ozil, he is less prone to errors and gives the team someone who can recycle the ball, this relieves the pressure that the defense gets put under.

                  Ozil will never be the guy who makes bone crunching tackles and I think many accept this without complaint, he doesn’t put the team in situations to defend as much as some of the other options we have available to us.

                  He is involved in the games he does play, shown by the volume of passes he makes, this is time that other players can convert from a def action to an attacking action. This season Ozil hasn’t had the number of assists we would expect from a number 10 but he has aided the transition from def to attack more than people have given him credit, I got mocked for saying Ozil is getting more ‘Assists of assists’ a while ago…

                  It is in those moments that we can either transition from def to attack or suffer a second wave from the opposition. Ozil knows his limits and plays it safe when the risk is too high for him, he could risk more and demand more of the ball but is that to the teams benefit? Sometimes I personally think it would but other times I do believe he has to trust his team mates to not fail over putting himself in a situation he is bound to fail.

                  Ozil isn’t a bone crunching tackler, he isn’t a dribbling god who will take banks of players on… He is a passer. This is rarely glamorous other than those visionary passes that result in a goal. Ozil can generally pick out the right pass when thinking about what needs to be done, his end product for passing is world class.

                  I have not said Arsenal can not attack without Ozil, I am not saying Arsenal can not defend without him either, it is stating the obvious but I feel it needed to be said.

                  If we maintain the ball then we do not need to defend as much, this is good considering our defence… Isn’t it?

                  1. Believe you me, I do not expect Ozil to make bone crunching tackles, win headers, track back effectively, or even score. He’s purely in the team to create, but when he doesn’t create, he gives the team nothing else! He’s just a passenger.

                    On his day, Ozil can be devastating…but that rarely happens. Whereas with other players that may have an off day, at least you get some fight and work rate out of them at a minimum.

                    What’s been fantastic about this season, is the amount of games Ozil has missed. Because it’s really allowed to see how we fare without him. It was hard to convince fans that Ozil wasn’t needed in the past because Wenger always played him. But now we have irrefutable evidence that we can live without him, thanks to Emery. I just cannot understand why fans keep making a case for Ozil, when the evidence is overwhelming? Especially given his insane wages.

                    Ask yourself a few honest questions.

                    When was the last time you watched an Arsenal away game, and thought, wow! Ozil was amazing! A phenomenal performance?

                    When was the last time you thought that of Ozil in any game?

                    Or in any big game?

                    I am not being sarcastic, or trying to trick you or anything. I would be very interested to know your answers on that.

    3. Leaving Özil out of away games did not do our away form any good. Emery has to start getting his away games’ tactics right, or just stop tinkering with the line-up so frequently. His team selection was bad, and the players didn’t do anything to impress. well, except Leno and Iwobi, when he came on. We’re going to miss Sokratis for the next 2 games, and Mustafi is our replacement, (*facepalm). What does Mavropanos have to do to get a start, I doubt he will commit as many blunders as Mustafi, and since he’s young, he can only imptove with time. I feel we should start our remaining games with our strongest 11, and that includes Özil. And playing 4-4-2 or any of it’s variants should be able to help accommodate our best players in positions they are convenient playing. It’s great to have Torreira back. I hope he regains his form….. now let’s smash Napoli at the Emirates, I like Koulibaly, but I hope he doesn’t have a good game against us, same goes for his team mates….. we should see the Black Panther mask at least a couple of times, and Lacazette doing his dance too…. COYG!

      1. As I said to Pat, our best performances away from home happened without Ozil. What did Ozil create against Everton? Everyone bar Leno and Iwobi were poor, but if we’re talking purely about creativity, then the stats speak for themselves if you look at the whole season We’re not struggling because of creativity, it’s our defending that’s the issue. I think we’ve had zero clean sheets away from home in the league. That is astonishing!

    4. “Our home form has been so good, that we’d have secured 3rd by now if we just had a half decent away record.”

      Was that not the same situation last season when Arsenal won 15 and drew 2 of 19 home games setting the best home record bar City? Wasn’t it the away record last season that doomed it? So what really has changed?

      1. There’s been a change! Most obvious is how well we’re performing in the big games, is probably the best measure of the change. One also has to take into account the crippling injuries all season, and the fact that this is Wenger’s team, not Emery’s. Once Emery gets more of his signings in, then I feel positive we’ll go up another level.

  7. ozil at RW and mikhi at LW will never ever ever ever ever evereverevereverevereverever work.

  8. Emery started with a defensive formation because of how poor Arsenal are defensively. In the first half, Everton had 6 shots to Arsenal’s 1 shot.

    In the second half when the team was more offensive minded, Everton had 17 shots to Arsenal’s 6 shots.

    Everton were unlucky not to score more in the second half. The defensive formation was not the problem. It was probably not start Iwobi over Ozil or Mhkitaryan.

    Everyone wants free flowing football but then the club is wide open at the back. Trade-offs need to be made.

    The real problem was the lack of fight throughout the team. Most players were really, really poor. It is not the managers faults if the previous manager never really thought about defense or heart when buying players.

    The rot of the previous regime seems to be slowly being worked out but it will take a few transfer windows. Ozil, his wages and inconsistencies are inhibiting the squad rebuild. He is not world class and awful value for money.

  9. As the author mentioned Ozil has one job. To do said job he needs everything to be perfect. If it is not perfect he is not to be blamed. Is a player that does one job very useful? Is a player that needs everything to be perfect to do the one job useful? Given that everything is rarely perfect that player is unable to do his job on a regular basis, but it is not his fault because everything wasn’t perfect so lets shift the blame for his poor performances elsewhere.

    Now imagine that player is the highest paid player at a club with severe financial restrictions as illustrated by Arsenal being only in the loan market in the January window.

  10. It’s just been Ozil this Ozil that since the defeat, I’m so over this now. Grown men getting worked up over a player who wasn’t even the cause of our defeat. He’s good at home, not so good away, we know this our manager seemed to have forgotten. I personally don’t think he’ll be here much longer, yes he still has 2 more years on the contract but Raul made it clear there will be no running down of contracts anymore, and can anyone really see Arsenal letting him walk for free after all the money invested in him? Let’s not forget we can’t sign without reducing the wage bill and surprise surprise who’s the biggest drain? Let’s enjoy him while we still can, the poor guys been trying

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