Has Football ‘Kicked Out’ Players Like Ozil? By Dan Smith
Arsene Wenger was asked about his opinion on the Ozil situation this week and came up with an interesting theory, saying: ‘the way football is going at the moment, it’s kicked out players like Ozil.’
Football goes in cycles. 10 Years ago everyone was copying the Spanish model, having small technical players who could keep the ball. Their national team even started games without a natural striker. Eventually the likes of Spain and Barcelona would be criticized for not adapting the tiki-taka style, having zero plan B.
Then young coaches like Klopp and Pochettino became obsessed with the high press.
To combat that style, the likes of Pep Guardiola would tactically play out from defence to beat the press. Ever since the Man City manager discarded Joe Hart for not being good enough with a ball at his feet, every coach now seems obsessed with having a keeper who is comfortable passing the ball under pressure (some with various degrees of success).
The latest fashionable trend is having a full back as your main attacking outlet. A left back or right back has to almost be as good (if not better) going forward than defending. To support that, many sides are lining up with 3 centre backs, one of which is comfortable on the ball and can be creative.
If you use Arsenal as an example, David Luiz at times is our most creative player in terms of stepping into midfield and wanting to pick a long pass.
Gone are the days when a defender only had to worry about being able to tackle and head the ball. The negative aspect to that is that the sport is now struggling to produce World Class defenders.
So whatever your personal opinion of Ozil, is his former manager correct? Is this not in fact the worst possible time for a number 10 to be trying to break into any 11?
When the Gunners offered the German a new contract, he had an obvious spot in the team but neither party were to know that the number 10 was about to become extinct.
Like a striker has to now do more than just be a goal poacher, Ozil in the current popular system doesn’t fit in.
Everyone uses the best as the template to model yourself on. In the last two years Liverpool have become champions of Europe and England with one of the least creative midfields in history. They didn’t have to be anything more than hard working though because of the width of Arnold and Robinson.
The art of floating in the lines behind the striker is a dying one.
The most creative players in the League are Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes or (last season) David Silva. Even those players though are now asked to play deeper than they would like.
Don’t get me wrong, Ozil is not the same version that Mr Wenger signed but even if he was, I’m not sure his strengths would suit the formations being used by so many. Ozil was brought to English Football to assist and create chances, not for his stats on tracking back and winning back the ball.
If you played Ozil, you would be tactically choosing to sacrifice something defensively to help you on the offensive. You would describe Ozil as a ‘luxury player’.
Now though, so much emphasise has been put on pressing from the front and winning the ball back as soon as you lose it, the game has no room for an Ozil. That’s why even when I defend the midfielder, my argument only goes as far as saying he should be on the bench.
I don’t believe if we needed a goal, he’s not a better option to bring on with 10 minutes to go to pick a killer pass, than say a Joe Willock or Reiss Nelson.
But in terms of trusting him to do what’s needed for a current version of 5-2-3 or 3-5-2 to work, I accept Ozil doesn’t suit that system. I just wonder if any number 10 would?
Be kind in the comments…