Sleeping Wizard

Is time running out for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal?

Kwese Sports

In the summer of 2013, when Arsene Wenger said Arsenal were working on something special in the transfer window nobody imagined it, not really, some people laughed it off, of course there were whispers, but it wasn’t until deadline day when it became official, Mesut Ozil would be joining Arsenal. The scenes were unreal, for Arsenal fans it wasn’t only about the clout and stature of the player it was also the fact that they had finally broken the bank for a quality player after years and years of “mediocrity” in the transfer window, they had finally paid off the Emirates stadium debt and the era of selling players to rivals to raise money had ended, it was a beginning of a new era they said.

The impact of the Mesut Ozil signing didn’t take long to manifest, never mind the assist to Olivier Giroud on his debut (talk of instant impacts), Arsenal would finally end their nine year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup and Ozil was an integral part on their journey to clinching the oldest and most prestigious Cup competition in the world.

Football – Arsenal v Aston Villa – FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium – 30/5/15
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil celebrates with the trophy after winning the FA Cup Final. REUTERS/Carl Recine

Arsenal defended the trophy a year later and won it again in the next two years totaling 3 FA Cups in four years since the German playmaker arrived.

You have to have star players to attract star players; Mesut Ozil has been a major pull-effect for most big-name signings who have arrived at the Emirates since the former Real Madrid man joined, talk of Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, that’s what you get when you sign a player of Mesut’s pedigree. The commercial revenue he’s also brought to the club cannot also be overlooked, he’s jerseys have been among the most sold since his arrival to the Premier League, I’m pretty sure that was all factored in when awarding him a bumper new £300,000 a week contract to tie him down, deserved? Now that’s the question isn’t it? The fans care about what happens on the pitch not off it and it’s fair to say that quite recently most of them might have a point.

Mesut Ozil’s most productive season at Arsenal came in the 2015/16 season when he racked up 19 premier league assists, coming one short of Thierry Henry’s record of 20. In the first half of that season especially he was mightily unplayable, creating chance after chance racking up assist after assist, the wizard of Oz. What Arsenal fans regret the most however, is how Arsenal inexplicably decided not to sign a single outfield player aside goalkeeper Petr Cech that season, the notion is that, perhaps, if Ozil had better players around him Arsenal would have done more than win the Community Shield that season, but that’s just hindsight of course.

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil in action 15/16

The expectations after season 15/16 was sky-high as expected, sadly he didn’t quite hit the heights, could anybody have? Maybe not, but he wasn’t even close, after a very good start he tailored off, becoming largely inconsistent throughout.

Season 17/18 wasn’t any different, it was worse in all honesty. This time he was moved to the right side of attack where you’d naturally think wasn’t his best position but yet again he’d produce a performance that would leave you mesmerized and then become largely ineffective in the next. The talk around him last season was mostly about his contract situation, Manchester United were lurking behind, monitoring his situation, Jose Mourinho was an admirer. Wenger tough at that time clearly stated that it didn’t affect his performances unlike Alexis Sanchez who had apparently made up his mind to leave a long time ago. So why was he so inconsistent then?

Ozil was called up for the World Cup at the end of the season. Germany were one of the favourites, of course everybody knew that, however, they didn’t live up to the tag, especially for Mesut Ozil. After a very bad first game against Mexico he was dropped for the second game against Sweden even though it was pretty obvious he wasn’t the only player who had a bad game, they put the blame on him. The photo with him Gundogan and the Turkish president kick-started the bad blood between him and the fans, there were even calls that he and Gundogan be dropped from the squad completely.

Germany didn’t qualify from their group eventually, Mesut though was reinstated into the starting line-up for their final game and funnily enough, as per Opta he had the most chances created per 90 in that game and the entirety of the World Cup. Well, ever since he has subsequently retired from the National team to focus on Arsenal sighting many reasons as disturbing as racism from high-ranking German officials for his reason.

The new season has since kicked off and there have been massive changes at Arsenal, for Mesut Ozil the onus was on him to prove his doubters wrong that he still had it the expectations have been high again, not necessarily for Arsenal but for Mesut Ozil, he’s probably Arsenal’s most important player and the chance to play under a brilliant young manager was one that he’d relish. It turns out he relished the opportunity after all, he cut short his holiday to join the squad in preseason in order to get to know the new manager’s tactics and the plans he has for him especially.

Unai Emery has clearly stated how important he is to him, backing him through his post retirement announcement storm and all through the start of the season. It’s fair to say that Arsenal weren’t exactly given the friendliest of fixtures in Unai Emery’s start to life at Arsenal. Against Manchester City Mesut Ozil was deployed on the right even in a 4-2-3-1 and he was fairly average even though you could see improvement from his work-rate something the manager demands from all his attacking players.

Ozil battling for the ball with Raheem Sterling

Arsenal travelled to Chelsea next, this time Ozil was deployed in his favourite number 10 role directly behind the striker but overall it was a wishy-washy performance from the German, he was subsequently substituted in the second half Unai Emery sighted tactical reasons for that, the Arsenal manager has since shown he has no problem in taking off the supposed big-name players if need be.

After what we saw from the first two games, it is fair to say that the new Arsenal manager will need time to get this team playing the way he wants them to. Sadly though, Mesut Ozil for one doesn’t have that kind of time, after two underwhelming seasons at Arsenal by his own lofty standards there is hardly room for a third, there have already been doubts cast over whether he can really cut it in Unai Emery’s ideal team due to his renowned ill will to chase down a ball when the team doesn’t have it. On Saturday he missed the Arsenal win against West Ham due to illness, however there were rumours that he had a bust up with the manager in training prior to that even though Unai Emery has since quashed those rumours.

Arsenal face a favourable run of fixtures in the next two months and it will be interesting to see Mesut Ozil’s role in those matches when he returns. The manager has already shown he has no favourites, you’d have to earn your place in the team, so it’s up to Mesut Ozil to show the world that he is still that playmaker he used to be the one that has provided the most assists in the Premier League since his arrival, the one that has won the German footballer of the year five times and the one that is widely heralded as one of the best playmakers of his generation. Over to you Mesut, we are watching this space.