Opinion – Did Arteta Ruin Arsenal’s Season By Failing To Replace Ozil?

It was March 2020, and Mesut Ozil had made his final assist as an Arsenal player.

A deftly-made touch found Lacazette and thanks to the VAR, Arsenal defeated West Ham at the Emirates. Then COVID-19 happened.

For many of the Gunners faithful, it was quite unseen and unimaginable to see a player of Ozil’s quality phased out in that manner. What went on behind the scenes, Arsenal fans and the world of football will know someday…

Some angles found his refusal to take a paycut as good reasons, while others felt his public maligning of the team over Uighur Muslims was the unsaid fact. In all of it, Arsenal bore the brunt and Mikel Arteta took the headshot.

Ozil, although sometimes languid and careless of a strolling opposition player, is a fantastic midfielder on his day. He sees what many don’t and his numbers are impressive enough for greatness, bar his last two seasons at Arsenal.

At Arsenal, the German was often a subject of debate between sections of the fanbase. While many saw the beauty in his moments of gloss, others gnawed over his lack of presence in the biggest moments. He is, however, one man whose quality is surreal. In Arteta’s squad, nobody had near what Ozil could muster, and the moment the manager took that decision to phase him out without replacement, the team was always going to suffer.

F.A Cup and Community Shield successes against some of the biggest teams in England must have painted an excellent picture of the situation for Arteta. He thought too much of what he saw daily in training.

As Arsenal started the season like a house on fire, defeating Fulham and seeing Willian star, the former Arsenal captain must have patted himself on the back. The weeks that followed proved him wrong.

The Gunners snowballed from chaos into destruction and a section of the fanbase called for Arteta’s dismissal. Ozil used that opportunity to latch onto the team’s flailing fortunes to remind them of what they were missing. Comparisons of the stats of current players and Ozil never stopped rearing a head.

Daniel Ceballos, Joe Willock, Willian; Arteta hardly cracked the creative channel of the team as Arsenal lacked bite and fell uncontrollably. Amid all these, £72m club record signing, Nicolas Pepe frustrated the fanbase with his lacklustre displays. A bulk of the team’s creative spark fell on Bukayo Saka’s little shoulders and no one would blame the youngster for the part he has played.

It took some uncanny thinking to give Emile Smith-Rowe an opportunity and the young midfielder took it with both hands. Arsenal soon got creative and the Ozil jibes reduced. The mojo seems over again, and a fresh spark is needed. Enter Martin Ødegaard.

Ødegaard is a special talent and one who has the potential, ability and will to make a difference for Arsenal. While he’s yet to make a real difference yet, he has shown early signs of being a potential creative outlet for the team.

The thinking that went into his signing should have been present at the beginning of the season, and Arsenal could have consolidated on the team’s defensive improvements.

Arsenal’s failure to replace Ozil, as much as Pierre Aubameyang’s surprising dip in form sit top of the factors that have pegged Arsenal behind this season.

Sometimes, it takes just a little to have enough and Arsenal and Arteta brought the little too late.

Rilwan Balogun


  1. Why are people trying to make the lazy mercenary known as Mesut Ozil into some kind of footy god?
    He was the worst value for money we’ve ever had from the day he came in. How come every other team in the world seems to be able to hold their own against us, without Ozil in their team? He was no Star for us. He did nothing at all thatloads of other players do for their clubs. He was weak physically from day one! Does everyone have such short memories? He was the WORST deal we ever made, and then we compounded it with a stupid contract which enabled him to take the urine out of a great club for years. GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH!
    Now give Arteta time, and plenty of it! At least another full season after this one, and give our transfer team the boot if anyone! Anyone reading this could have done a better job than they have.

    1. I think most Ozil’s fans were mesmerized by his fancy skills and flicks. I have never reckoned him as a dangerous player though

      A lone forward or false nine like Kane/ Firmino and an inverted winger like Messi/ Mane/ Salah/ Sterling/ Saka are much more effective than a CAM to me

    2. Peter, the question was did Arteta blunder by not replacing Ozil with a creative player?. The answer to that, must be a resounding YES.

      Once MA stumbled on the football that ESR introduced into our sterile, sideways and backwards football for the majority of the games following the Fulham match, our way of playing changed completely.

      MA has now brought in two Madrid playmakers to try and improve our creativity even more and, as the article says, he should have done this before the season started… just as he should have brought in cover for Tierney.

  2. MA has made a lot of errors due to inexperience. In this post-modern era few believe in process. Since I belong to the crossroads of 2 generations I must emphasize that Arsenal cheated the fans by employing MA. The feeling with the Board seems to be that he will grow with the team. When they took him on I said to my friends that a puppy is cheaper than a dog, and you can have fun watching it grow. But while it grows the thieves will have more fun than you do. Stupid errors only a puppy could make:
    1. Work with the Board to remove Ozil, with no replacement, and thus start playing from the flanks with some of the shortest men in the PL expected to convert.
    2. Wait until people called him out to try Emile.
    3. Play Pepe out of position until non-footballers think the boy cannot play.
    4. Refuse to quit on William who shows no sign of regeneration (who is supposed to be PL experienced) – while giving poor support to Pepe who is young, new and shows glimpses.
    5. Keep playing games with Balogun – who is better than Nketiah and clearly on form.
    6. Keeps taking off Lacazette at odd times.
    7. Sell his comparable goal keeper to Villa and then go and buy a puppy.
    8 Play defensive, structured positional football – obviously trying to stop Arsenal losing, but not teaching them how to win.

    But we have already bought the puppy. There have been some cute times (FA Cup and Shield). So we have to bear the pain a bit longer. Top 8 maybe. Then let us try again next season. Hopefully, next season our puppy will learn to growl.

    1. You are really the “Herb of the Earth”. Your comments add a lot of spice to this site. A refreshing way to write, a symmetry of African style prose and English poetry. I don’t need to agree or not with your opinions but the way you write is simply engaging.

    2. @herbs of the earth. I love your herbal diagnosis of the state of the club. I want to read more comments from you as they are so enticing to read. The analogy of the puppy and the dog. lol

    3. Arsenal cheated the fans when they hired Raul Sanelihin and his dodgy cohorts. A technical director with a clear three year plan on where he wanted the club to be, early pain for long term gain and all that. But this guy was only in it for his own gain.

    4. I don’t agree with some of your points but your write up is interesting.. “a puppy is cheaper than a dog” technically a puppy is still a dog 🐕 lol

  3. Very well said David.In ESR and hopefully Odegaard, we have two talented creative players who can be really effective in the EPL something that Ozil failed to achieve.

    1. We are playing the worst football we ever played.
      We are loosing to teams we should never loose to.
      Our most expensive and talented players are rendered ineffective and lost.
      We hardly create chances to score even when we play with two No10 after saying No 10 is no longer needed in the EPL.
      We terminate our players contracts with nothing to show for it.

      So the price of discarding Ozil is already steep. Yet some fans still find the time to bash him, diminish his accomplishments and blame him for our club’s demise.
      Mind you we were winning under MA when Ozil was playing. No one can change history and no one can deny facts.

      Yes let’s hope ESR and Odegaard could replace the man. The same way we hoped for
      Elneny and Ceballos to do so.

    2. Think they were cheap options
      Get 350 off wage bill
      Get someone from.youth team ,loan youngster from real.Madrid
      Probably saved 300 thousand on wages
      All koronke cares about

  4. No, Arteta is ruining this season because of his inability to minimize the players’ mistakes, his occasional weird tactical decisions and he’s bad in players’ anger management as well. His tactics and ruthlessness are great, but he still needs more experience

    I think the players are still supporting him, but I’m afraid he only has this season to save his job. If we don’t get the EL trophy or if we finish lower than the 6th position, I believe Kroenke would try to sign a top manager in the summer

          1. If we crash out in the last 32 again I’m going to be seriously annoyed Sue.. olympiakos was painful last season 😩 I hear Liverpool and city will play in Hungary but will they get to play home games at home?

          2. 👍
            Me and the misses watched them all on Sunday in one sitting 😂
            Get watching it sue ,and slow down on your predictions I think you will be overtaking me pretty soon .

          3. Should have saved a few episodes Dan still only in season one 😂😂 I remembered the actor from hallpass he’s funny 😆

          4. Do I sense you don’t like Liverpool very much Sue ? 😂😂 Damn united scored 😩 I wanted pens 😆

          5. Dan.. haven’t got apple tv – hoping there’s a free trial!!.
            As for the predictions, no chance! You should give Dan your measurements right now 😄 You’re just too good!

            Kev.. make sure you predict every week next season! You’ve smashed it the last couple of weeks 👍

          1. United, Liverpool and city will probably get to play the respective home games at home while we must travel to Rome and Athens. I know Sue West Ham were awful did they even have a shot ? Haha neither do I Sue but there’s ways around that 😆

        1. Kev and Sue
          Do you think they should scrap the away goal for this tie ?
          Let’s say we drew 0-0 in Italy , 1-1 in Greece
          We would go out on the power of them scoring in Greece but what ‘s the difference?

          1. All of this is crazy, Dan.. I thought maybe they’d go for just a one off game, rather than ‘home’ and ‘away’…
            And to go out, as you say, with those draws would be comical!!! So, yes I definitely think it should be scrapped!
            Seeing how goal-shy we are right now I’m rather nervous about this!! Last chance saloon!!!

  5. Arteta ruined this season by relying on players who clearly let him down game after game, playing slow deliberate football and not realising his best players were sat beside him. He had a ready made replacement in ESR and he refused for months to see that his best players were from our academy and younger players who were doing well in EL and not getting their chance.

  6. Get beat by Leeds on Sunday then that must surely be the end for Arteta how much longer can the board put up with this clueless manager!!

    1. 100% he should already have been sacked.. we are a laughing stock, saw something on twitter Arsenal are top… Of the bottom half of the table and won’t even be top of that if Southampton win they’re game in hand.

      1. Arsenal are on top each year before the season opens.
        Teams are ranked alphabetically till the first game is played.

      2. Don’t know if you are old enough to remember the comedy show in the eighties in which we were referred to as the pride of the arse!

  7. Mesut Ozil was like an old master under Wenger. His sublime passing was a pleasure to watch. He created plenty of assists. When Emery came in, he didn’t want someone to paint the Sistine Chapel, with his tactics he needed someone to white-wash the garage. Ozil did not want to waste his talent doing that. He tried, under both Emery and Arteta, to produce those assists, but the forwards were just not good enough. I would defy De Bruyne to make Willian, Pepe, Lacazette, Nketiah or even Auba become a 20+ goals a season man. Sadly I see only a bottom half of the table finish for Arsenal this year. Again, I hope I am wrong, but I do worry. remember, Villa and West Ham have found forwards in the Championship. Has Edu ever looked down there, or does he only recruit Brazilians?

    1. Very apt comment. You painted Ozil accurately. He was an artist but the coach wanted him to be a house painter!

  8. So where is Eddie?? Who said Arteta not playing Saliba is because he is taking care of him as he lost his mother n going through tough family time.????read what Saliba has said on sky sports n then eat your humble pie for all things you said to fellow fans who were pointing out Arteta’s treatment of Saliba. You did the same when Willian was bought so how is your world class willian lighting up the EPL this season. You pro Arteta fans are the stupidest ppl I have ever come across, you make up your own excuses for his failures n falling out with so many players then when the reality is clear as day light you start blaming Wenger. You lot seem to think kicked out of two cups n lossing almost half the league matches is the right direction..??? What a joke. Arteta can not get us in top 4 with this squad but you guys think we will be challenging for title under him next year ??. Liverpool director was right when he said what stuff they are smoking over at Emirates. Funny thing is when we loose we start seeing articles about the past great players or great teams to move away from topic of criticizing Arteta but when we win all the pro Arteta articles come back n then we don’t see any article related to past. Arteta has destroyed the club, made us into one of the biggest boring team of EPL, made a regular season after season proven goal scorer into a fart of a player who can not score to even save his life, broken long standing records for decades of poor performance n let teams like wolves do a double on us…not to mention losses at home to licester n others. He has thrown talented players like Saliba, Guendozi n ozil out of team while keeping Willian n co in. Like last year he is doing same to Martenelli as well even when he is fit he is not played. He is not developing any youngster, He is forced to play Saka n ESR because he had no choice because before even when ESR was fit he never made the match day squad. Fans are jumping so much about our better defence what are we going to do with this defence if our offence sucks big time and we end up lossing match any ways. Also when we face quality opposition then our defence tends to go for a jog any ways….by beating third tier UEFA group stage teams n keeping clean sheet against them n also against struggling EPL sides we think we are on to something. No wonder why we are the biggest laugh of the league.

    1. Monsah, you started off well and then became the same as the people you are slagging off.

      Our defense has become much better recently, that’s a fact. This season isn’t over yet and we already have as many clean sheets as in 2018/2019. Unfortunately, we have as many losses and we’re only half-way through the season. Also, we’re far behind scoring half the goals we did in that season.

      So most of those loses are down to us not being able to create chances and score goals. This season, we lost most matches by just one goal difference. And if there was a proper creative midfielder like ESR, some of those losses would’ve become draws, some would become wins.

      In an ambitious club, that’s a sackable offense right there. But at Walmart FC, to have a manager that will work with whatever budget he’s given is a top priority.

      Now, to be Arteta out, you must realize that his replacement won’t be an upgrade like Allegri, it will either be a downgrade or a mirror image of Arteta. And I’d rather stick with the current average manager.

      KSE are stingy enough for a truly ambitious manager to ever consider joining us. Unless Bielsa suddenly decides to abandon ship at Leeds, which is unlikely.

  9. No He didn’t. He had to get rid of players first which is exactly what he did. Now that he has freed up place we can look at rebuilding. Big ups to Manager I think he is doing great.

    1. DT, is that you?

      Arteta has single-handedly lost us a spot in European competitions when he decided to trust the chelsea agent for so long.

      If I knew Allegri or Bielsa would want to manage us under KSE’s stingy conditions, I’d be Arteta Out.

      The only reason he gets to keep his job is the fact that a top manager wouldn’t want to manage Walmart FC.

  10. Least talented squad of players in decades Worst football in decades lowest position in league in decades …. something’s gotta give … a loss to Leeds … who are the opposite on each of those … and are favourites to win will underscore the sorry state of the club and the hopelessness of the rookie manager

  11. The problem was never Ozil, never Saliba never Guendouzi……the problem is Arteta. He includes his favourite signings like Willian…. who are duds Over a year down the line and HE cannot get the team to play. Confusing football style and tactics….and he projects negative things onto some players and treats them with contempt, which to me is a disturbance in Arteta….a serious character flaw which cannot be overcome. We are wasting years with him at the helm. He’s an apprentice learning at Arsenal’s expense, harming this club and it’s ethics

  12. The problem was never Ozil, never Saliba never Guendouzi……the problem is Arteta. He includes his favourite signings like Willian…. who are duds Over a year down the line and HE cannot get the team to play. Confusing football style and tactics….and he projects negative things onto some players and treats them with contempt, which to me is a disturbance in Arteta….a serious character flaw which cannot be overcome. We are wasting years with him at the helm. He’s an apprentice learning at Arsenal’s expense, harming this club and it’s ethics

  13. The argument is spot on, the 10 role in football is vital. A player who can link defence to attack in efficient flow with creating chances for attack high in his mind and role. Arteta decided he didn’t want Ozil but he could not get anyone to fulfill that role. Until he found ESR and now Odegaard, but that was 15 matches too late. ESR is good but way too over hyped for his experience and abilities. His arrogance and lack of tactical ability has cost this team horribly this year. If he took that long to identity that the 10 role is vital to our performance he should be shipped off to junior football coaching. Regardless of what he thought of Ozil , he just couldn’t get himself to admit a change in thinking was required. At the point where his future at the club was at risk he changed thinking, if that’s not selfish and arrogant thinking then what is. Remember ESR s role was fully implemented during the Chelsea game. Arteta was a game or two away from the the sack then.

  14. I love Ozil, I love Henry, I love Wenger. These represent the Arsenal I love. out of this world football. I love Auba, I love Saka, ESR, KT, MARTINELLI. I love beautiful football.

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