The one player that holds the key to Arsenal’s season

2.92 chances/2.58 key passes per game, yet we still question MO11


Since Mesut Özil joined on deadline day last year every expert seems to have given their opinion about him. From ‘biggest waste of money’ to ‘best number 10 in the world’, and no player seems to divide the opinion of experts and fans as much as him.

Indeed, he seems to be a giant paradox.

Statistically, he is one of the world’s most creative players. Creating 2.92 chances per game, playing 2.58 key passes per game and 10 assists in 26 games in the Premier League is as good as it gets all across Europe.

On the other hand, his performances seem to tell an entirely different story at times. He often goes missing and looks lacklustre, lazy and unwilling to defend. I believe the biggest problem with the perception of his performances is that we expect too much from him. He has the giant price tag of £42.5m hanging over his head and everyone expects him to be a 20 goals, 20 assists per season player that grabs every game by the scruff of its neck and wins it for us easily.

I hope people have realised by now that Mesut Özil is not that kind of player.

The second biggest issue is his position. It seems to me at times that Arsene Wenger himself does not know yet whether he wants Özil to play in the number 10 role or out wide in the future.

Özil playing out wide allows Wenger to fit Ramsey, Wilshire, Özil and Cazorla in the same line-up, which gives us the lion share of possession most of the time, but it also seems to hinder our creativity and completely takes away our pace. Playing out wide also requires Özil to track back which he does not like to do and even abandons at times.


To be honest I have no idea why Wenger still plays him out wide as it clearly does not bring the best out of him.

Playing in the number 10 role, no matter whether alone in a 4-2-3-1 or as a shared number 10 in a 4-1-4-1 suites Özil much more. He gets into positions where it takes only one or two more passes to create a goalscoring opportunity. He does not have to track players back into his own box and we can counter attack much better if he wins or receives the ball as early as possible.

In my opinion the criticism he receives is over the top and one obvious thing is that none of his former or present coaches and teammates have anything bad to say about him.

I still remember seeing an Interview with Arsene Wenger on German TV in October 2013. When asked to describe Mesut Özil he stated ‘Mesut Özil is a dream. He is born to play football. Everything he does is class, he makes it look very easy, but he also works very hard’. Joachim Löw hails Özil for his performance without the ball and Jose Mourinho has called him the best number 10 in world. The perfect quote about his role at Arsenal comes from one of the most intelligent footballers ever, Phillip Lahm: ‘His vision is probably the best I have ever seen and that is why it is so important to have the right striker ahead of him. He is a dream for strikers and you saw that with Ronaldo and Benzema when he was at Madrid. If Arsenal can find the right striker who is fast and makes intelligent runs – then Mesut will be devastating next season.’

To me Mesut Özil is the best number 10 in the world. BUT he is only as good as the team allows him to be. At Real Madrid he was sensational because he played the number 10 role with world class forwards like Benzema and Ronaldo, who made it easy for him. At Arsenal it has been up and down so far. He didn’t have a player he could feed with passes the way he could with Ronaldo and playing out wide has not helped him a lot either. The signing of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez might change this. Welbeck, Alexis and Walcott (if he can finally stay fit) are quick and intelligent enough to provide runs through the back four and therefore provide Özil with what he needs to be brilliant in the number 10 role.

My questions to you are:

1) Where do you want Özil to play? Left wing, right wing or in the middle?
2) Have we found the right striker to get the best out of Özil?

Written by: Nik

63 thoughts on “The one player that holds the key to Arsenal’s season

  • Fantastic post about the dream player, Nik. 🙂

    You are so right about the ‘paradox’: great stats vs debatable attitude and passion levels. I reckon he is not the happiest bunny on the left hand side, but he also has a natural air of indifference about him. But all of that is just perception. If you watch him closely, he is always looking to add something to our attack, to create space and chances within the team…which is reflected in his very fine stats.

    I can see why Wenger plays him on the left wing – and so did the fifth beatle during the world cup. Kroos and Jack or Rambo are better suited to hold the midfield and give structure to the team, whereas Ozil seems to prefer a free role, allowing him to go there where he feels he can add value. The free role on the left or right is perfect for this, but key is to have a fast player/ proper winger on the other wing.

    Yet, I also want to see more of Ozil in the hole, as he is still learning to play in Arsene’s team. And as you say, with Alexis, Ollie/Welbeck and Theo in front of him, he should become even more effective….and pleasing to the eye. So it is not just Welbeck but also the other two who will allow Ozil to shine properly again.

    Ideally, we play with a beast of a DM behind both Jack and Ozil, so they both can dictate play and get the best out of each other. But lets see what’ll happen this season. Exciting times! 🙂

  • I want him to play somewhere else, he’s an expensive luxury that we don’t have the quality in front of him or the right balance behind him to balance out his lack of defensive awareness or quality.
    For Ozil to warrant the free role he needs to thrive he needs to be posting like you say 20 goals +20+ assists, I don’t see him doing that.
    And Arsene’s obsessed with finding a role for Wilshere and Cazorla when you add Arteta will play when fit our midfield Ramsey aside , is filled with too many similar small, slight players who don’t like and are not suited to the darker aspects of the game.
    Ozil is an exceptionally gifted footballer who can create chances, but the modern game requires players who can do a bit of everything, particularly when behind him there’s a massive lack of steel to compensate.
    Like you say Ozil isn’t a wide player particularly in the PL, we need to give Chambo an extended run on the left, Alexis on the right and Welbeck through the middle, when Theo comes back we need to move Alexis down the middle and put Theo on the right, start putting square pegs in square holes and round ones in round ones.

  • Good article and so true, nothing divides Arsenal fans opinions as much. When he first arrived there is no doubt he lifted the team and hence our title challenge which sadly wilted. Personally I see no plus side in playing him out on the left. I am a huge fan of Wenger, but he does seem to like buying classy midfield players who get knocked off the ball a little easy. Plus they all seem to want to play in that attacking midfield role and invariably some of them get shifted out wide to accommodate others.. The left side of the attack is very blunt at the moment

    I would like to see him in the middle protected by a Vieira type player behind him

    If and when Theo gets up to speed again it will give Ozil much more interesting targets to hit. wellbeck? Not sure yet, but fingers crossed

  • Agree – a well reasoned post.

    The only point is this – Ozil might work as hard as anyone in terms of off the ball running, but that’s normally to fill or create space – we normally associate work-rate with defense. The lines ‘He works hard for the team’ and ‘he defends from the front’ are normally treated as being synonymous – they are not; Ozil being case in point.

    If we’re going to have someone like that in the team, we need to balance the ‘defensive work-rate’ requirements across rest of the 11 – especially against other top sides. I don’t think Arsene’s set up his team that way.

    I’d expect Jack, Ramsey and Arteta to have to really put in a solid defensive shift on games against top teams. And then have these rapier like thrusting players, e.g. Walcott, Sanchez, Welbeck, Ox, Gnabry, feeding of the little magician’s passes. (I’d personally like to see Rosicky play more – he mainatins attacking momentum better than most others).

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not necessarily a personnel change that we need anymore, it’s an attitude change. Everyone needs to be aware that against teams that carry a dangerous midfield and attacking threat, we should expect whoever plays in the midfield three to hold, and the front four to be left to do the attacking more or less on their own. If for instance, Ramsey breaks forwards, one of the wide men should drop back to provide extra cover – so we’re not so easily picked apart on the counter attack.

    It’s going to be hard for Jack and Ramsey to reign in their attacking intent, but that’s what the team needs on big days. You have to trust the talent in front of you, and recognise that a draw is six points better than a defeat to one of your close rivals.

  • The problem with Ozil is he is an easy target because he’s the odd one out, all our players have a decent pass rate and I would expect the key passes to be just as high if any held the position he did last season – I think Ramsey’s was 2 per game and he wasn’t even in the pivotal number 10 position (or CAM if you like). But creating chances doesn’t mean he can completely neglect 3 major sides of the game, he never wins 50/50’s and he never wins the ball back and he hardly ever tracks back. That’s what makes him the odd one out, all the others do; Ramsey, OX, Sanchez, Wilshere etc, they all put a shift in that’s just football and the extra talent they have is the bonus that makes them great players. With Sanchez chasing like a nut case for 90 mins and OX, Ramsey and the rest joining in it is easy to pick out Ozil just chilling out up top.

    Having said that the boss might see this as an asset, maybe so he’s free if we win back possession (I don’t agree with that personally but I’m not the boss) but he certainly won’t be in a pivotal position to take full potential of that freedom if he’s over on the left wing that’s for sure.

    If you are going to fill an attacking midfield role like say the 4-1-4-1 at Leicester then you put your two best number 10’s there – Wenger chose Ramsey and Cazorla. Now what I wish the boss would do is say o.k I have Ozil, Wilshere, Cazorla who can play there I’m going with Cazorla, if he turns out to have a bad day I will use my second choice as a sub (i.e either Wilshere or Ozil). The wing position is then left free to be filled by winger type players – OX, Campbell, Rosicky, Podolski. But no, what the boss does is use Ozil out of position which in my opinion is thoroughly detrimental to both the team’s performance and Ozil’s morale.

    So question 1: in the middle or nowhere
    Question 2: We just don’t know yet but play him in the right position and let us find out

  • Nice post Nik,
    1. CAM: I totally agree Ozil is the nuts but has not had the runs to make the passes if you remember the while Theo was fit last season the amount balls he was able to play into his path was phenomenal but you can’t do that with Giroud and as the end of season last year Santi wide and I love the Ox wide as always runs at players but I don’t think he has developed his game in terms of the runs without ball enough. I also remember the article recently with Ozil saying if he plays wide the right is better as he can come back inside on his left foot which I would like to see especially as Debuchy is stronger than Monreal so would cope with lack of support better.
    2. Yes:Ozil would thrive centrally with the pace of Alexis, Campbell, Theo, Welbeck or Ox in any combo of three across the front or around

    Rich – who was the last CAM to get 20 goals and 20 assist in the prem also I said it before and saying it again Wenger doesn’t want a DM as he expects to have the ball his game is based on possession and we have been told he doesn’t worry about the opponents game just our own.
    Must say could not agree more infact that is my biggest problem is the square pegs in round holes it’s as though he is more concerned with keeping superstars happyby playing them, than the club and fans with results.

    Totes – hit the nail on the head exciting times and we shall see

  • Oh Gerry re squad selection very difficult, I think I over thought it 2nd time started to calculate how many games x how many positions etc and thought it’s gonna be like algebra and I do enough calculations for a living and thought sod it but would be very similar to yours although looks like your guys will be playing for 2 seasons the amount of starts you given to that many players

  • Great post and a lot to think about. I fully agree with Pininho about how chipping in in defense is not the only indication of a hardworking attitude. The reason I find it difficult deciding the best position to play Ozil is because of 2 seasons ago.

    Santi playing consistently in the number 10 position was our best player in 2012-2013 as much as Rambo was last year. Unfortunately we ran him into the ground and injuries plus the arrival of Oz meant he would no longer get the extended playing time in his favourite position. Just one season after his revelatory 1st (people like me had never heard of him before he joined The Arsenal) and a number of fans wouldn’t have minded seeing him go this transfer window. I don’t get that. If he had been pushing for a move after his great season you can only imagine the kind of names we’d have called him.

    So why do I bring this up in a discussion about Oz? I see a similar thing happening. Just as Santi was shifted out of position to accommodate Oz, it seems Oz is being sacrificed to give Jack a chance to prove himself. He is the bearer of the legendary no.10 jersey after all. I don’t think Wenger envisioned him as a defensive mid when he gave him that jersey. The problem again is that we have a number of quality players in that position who all want to play and who we would like to keep happy.

    Ozil did mention in this interview ( that he prefers the right wing to the left because he can then cut in and shoot with his left but with Theo’s impending return it doesn’t look like he’ll get much time there. This is really going to be a tough one but it’s more likely he’ll be moved back to the center soon. My question is: what’s to become of Santi/Jack if we play Walcott, Alexis and Welbeck with Oz in the hole and a fit Arteta? Hiw about the Ox? Wenger’s gonna have to do a lot of rotation to keep everyone happy this season!

  • @Steve I agree fully. Play the best players in their best positions according to our tactics *cough* and when it’s not working or we want to give someone a rest we change personnel.

  • GhGunner,
    that last question you posed is (i think) exactly why Wenger is trying out this 4 in midfield rather than sticking to a front three AM, he is trying to get another one of his AM in the area he wants them.
    btw, when you said Ozil prefers the right wing i would actually quite welcome that (if he had to be put anywhere other than centre) as i have always wanted to see Theo cutting in from the left side, he’s scored some excellent goals from that area in the past.

    I can’t see why we couldn’t keep the one DM that he is trying out now but keep the three AM of the old system (4-2-3-1) but add a striker. Welbeck and Walcott up top would give height, strength and power with insane pace and finishing – a winning combination in my book.

    a 4-1-3-2 something like this

    ————-Back four————–
    Sanchez——Ozil——–The OX

    I suppose if you did that though you would then include Ramsey (who normally plays next to the DM) into the mix for the CAM spot. Maybe Wenger just has to realize that he loads of CAM’s and that he has to find a structure of priority for them in that position rather than trying to play multiple CAM’s out of position.

  • I think ozil should play through the middle tge main reason why I am sayimg this is not offensive but defensive

    When you are a creative player and especially a no.10 you would always try the killer balls (through balls) but there is one big problem in that. Whenerver ozil tries an excellent it is not necessary it always works out sometimes it fails. So when he plays on the left wing and if the left back is also up attacking then there is no cover whatsoever on the left lank and we see goals like Lukaku’s (Everton 2 nd goal )
    But if he was playing through the middle and the ball got away then there would have been flamini and the 2 CBs to defend against the runner

    That is exactly what used to happen at RM for ozil ,having khedira and another DM behind him he is used to play care free and thats what makes him the best no.10 in the world

    Besides his body language is also very unusual. Is he really the world’s best no.10 might sometimes be the first question after kickoff because he is simply walking around but this is what makes defenders under estimate his skills.

    Also if you have noticed most of the goals Arsenal scored in important situations they had been directly assisted by Özil or developed due to his pass

    So give the lad some time. I am sure he will prove his critics wrong. Fingers crossed :p

  • Nik – Music to my ears. Great counter argument to the doubters. Many of whom are picking up on his first two performances this season?
    Looking at that closely, the same people will forgive Jack and Aaron for being a bit ‘rusty’, even though they played in the pre-season games, yet completely overlook that Mesut came back late along with his German colleagues. So while he was training the team was out in Turkey playing in the CL, so he barely had a couple of days together with the team that included 3 new players. Then, like Per, thrust into their first match probably a couple of weeks away from full fitness, out of necessity rather than design.
    Come on, give the guy a break!
    All those calling for him to track back, I might ask you to look where he got injured? That is why I want him to stay up field and play to his strengths, and not the team’s weaknesses.

    That said, I think your final paragraph is key. He needs good players around him. Intelligent players who make the runs towards the space that is opening up, not the slow thinkers who run into a space that is closing down. Last season Ramsey was very much in the former group, and why both had success. Ozil sees where the space will open up before he receives the ball. He needs players on that same wavelength. Sadly Ramsey has not got to that level yet, again getting used to new players around him?
    However, when all are up to speed, with Ozil, not anchored to the central position, but a free role along the width of the box(Cazorla country too), with the likes of Alexis, Welbeck, Walcott/Bellerin/Debuchy, late runs from Ramsey and the Ox, all capable of finding and using those spaces, we have the potential to have one of the best attacks in the league?

    I have answered Q.1 above. Q.2 Is more about potentially ‘Yes’, but it will take a few more games to get them all to work together. Strikers, in the sense of ‘goal scorers’ need the ammunition as well as the space to score. Even with Giroud we have five or six goal scorers, and I am guessing Welbeck will be well suited to that team effort?

    Regards the 4-1-4-1 formation being tried to ‘accommodate’ certain players, and to the detriment of others, I suspect that will be over now the TW has closed.?
    If I were to make an intelligent guess I would say AW has tried to keep Santi involved more centrally in order not to give him any reason to want to take up transfer offers? Window closed, Santi takes the central ‘CAM’ role whilst Mesut sits out with injury. But will be the lesser partner when both are fit, and are just rotating?

    The formation that I think AW will continue with is the trusted 4-5-1, but only in the sense that there will be 5 midfielders involved. The real underlying positions will be a 4-2-3-1 when pressing, then 4-1-2-3 in attack mode, and a deep 4-5 and a higher 1 in defence.
    Ozil’s position should the middle of the ‘3’ when pressing. One of the pair in final third ‘attack’ mode. The ‘high 1’ in defence, to be ready for the quick transition. That is receiving the second ball out of defence as the quick guys run into the spaces available.
    Well that is my opinion at least, but I think it will be October before it really clicks …
    Squeaky bum time between now and then I fear?

    Keep the faith …

  • H Bo – Yes, it was made harder the way I laid it out. And you are dead on to say there is a mathematical equation to be reckoned with.
    However, I loosely based it on 50 games, which times the 11 starting positions equals 550 starting places. In my list of the top 9 players, on an average of 25 games equals 225 starting places taken up. Exactly half as it happens. But if you work with numbers, you will know the difference between the ‘median’ and ‘mode’, and the ‘average’, so I would expect that number to higher in this group as more will the play the 30, or 30+ mark, whereas other groups will be towards the lower mark.
    Needless to say, I made no attempt to fill that 550 number exactly. 😀

    I always try to make intelligent guesses. So when I filled the spaces there appeared a natural break between certain groups. Others could argue for different players of course. What I was balancing was the players who are less likely to be challenged for their Number 1 spot in the first group, those who have a strong case for playing in the second group, but are fighting for their place, and a third group who are probably behind their main rival, or rivals for their best position
    You were right in spotting that Chambers, for example, is higher that he might be if he was just playing second fiddle to Debuchy. With options in both DM and more likely CB, he looks to have a very successful season? I am pinning my hopes on Hayden having an outstanding game in the COC against Southampton that will put him right in the mix for a starting DM role.
    The lack of a final push in the TW may be what AW is thinking to? I think if he has a good game in the COC he will be a more solid choice than Chambers, who can still make mistakes, but it is up to him to prove me right.
    Other areas, particularly in midfield, where the competition is tight, and may get tighter if the January window gives forth my choices???? Cazorla I think is a separate case as he rotates with Ozil? So then the AM positions will be fought out by Ramsey, Wilshere, Ox, Rosicky, and probably Podolski.The latter is not a winger, but a wide striker, and I cannot see him getting too many opportunities in either area, but I guess he knew that, and he is happy to wait for a return to Cologne?

    I should repeat that I think the first 20 will be involved in a lot more games, mainly as subs from the lower group. Bellerin for example, may only get two or three starts, but could get another 15 as a late sub?

    But feel free to copy and amend my list if it takes your fancy?

  • Great post! Not much to add after the comments from TA, Pininho and Gerry with which I wholeheartedly agree. Just a quick note to complement Pininho’s first remark – while Özil does *look* lazy, he is regularly the second longest distance runner in the team behind Rambo. Perception can be deceiving.

  • Nice post Nik

    Look, we have to face reality here, for all Ozils quality he has not had the impact most people thought he would.

    The “dream” that he would pick the ball up in offensive positions and unlock defences by releasing Theo, Chamberlin, Sanchez etc just isnt going to happen. I to have a recurring dream, one were my ex wife turns up at my door and says “Sorry Terry, ive been a mean old crone, taking all your money forcing you to live on baked beans and socks with holes in them. Here, have a cheque for £758,256. 83, all the divorce money I fleeced you on”. Ime still waiting

    The game in the premeirship has changed. When DB10 was at his peak he woild tear Leicster apart. They were full of part time doormen like Steve Walsh, Matt Elliot, Emile Hesky, etc who spent staurday afternoon playing football and in the evening beating up a 19 year olds for turning up wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

    Who was there most talented player? Robbie Savage. There manager? Martin Oneil, a man who belived foreign players were Scottish and team bonding revolved around a 12 pint booze up and curry

    Move on to days game. Leicster awash with TV money now have a new stadium, scouts all over the world, modern training methods, and are us fit as a butchers dog.

    Ok, they still have some bouncers at the back. But these guys are a lot more professional now, wearing bow ties and beating you up away from the surveliance cameras.

    We are faced by packed defences, teams that are fit and press hard, and some very nice foreign players up front that provide a potent counter attack

    So were does that leave Ozil? Well, the most succesful sides in the league with an underlying striker post DB10, Sheringham, and Cantona have had Lampard, Scholes, and to some extent Yaya Toure.

    The commen factor apart from working hard, they could all score goals. Ozil cant. He will get a few but not enough, but o fcourse he can work on that and score more.

    Yes, people will say when we get Theo back playing with Sanchez then they will make the runs and Ozil will have a field day providing the service. but my question is, What runs? Theres is not enough space to run into, not on a consistent basis anyway.

    Ozils a top player, but for him to fulfill his potential at Arsenal he should forget about playing behind the strikers and start watching Vidieos of Robert Pires

  • Steve we can’t really change the formation as the second DM normally Rambo works for us as I don’t think he is a CAM he is best running from deep but needs a person sitting and on recent performances it appears to suit Jack a bit more too as oppose to the 10 role hence why I like both together but with the discipline for one to stay when the other goes.

    Neeraj glad you mentioned body language and style this why 10 suits him best he’s lazy very Berbatovesque.

    Gerry I like the statement ‘That is why I want him to stay up field and play to his strengths, and not the team’s weaknesses’ very true square pegs and all.

    I will post my team for last post today although my Southern Oilers scummy father in law is here from Germany and we got every sod and their mother over today.

    Terry very good point about the quality of not just Leicester but all prem teams has risen to very high level. The lesser teams use to be a 4/10 up to 6/10 now they are between 6 & 7/10 which then poses a bigger threat if we not playing 10/10 very true, but this is what makes the Prem the best league you know who should win according to script but there are a few scripts that’s get lost in the post or you got players fluffing lines and it all goes to pot.

  • H Bo, good points mate but i do have a problem with both Jack and Ramsey being the pair in DM positions. I have seen it before and i can’t for the life of me remember which games it was in but it was business as usual for Ramsey i.e nearly playing the entire game in a higher attacking area and making runs which left Jack stagnant in the DM position. If Ramsey continues his forward outlook continuously throughout the game leaving his partner to hold the more regimented DM position (which is by no means a bad thing!) then i would much rather prefer we have an actual DM left behind at the back, my choice atm would be Chambers. Otherwise Jack’s game isn’t ever going to materialize and as a whole our defensive side will be weakened.

    The picture as i see it in my head is we have a midfield runner next to a DM which will (baring injuries) forever be Ramsey with Diaby the perfect replacement if injury free. The CAM spot is a battle between Ozil and Cazorla leaving the rest as the winger places in the AM made up of winger type players like Sanchez, Walcott, OX, Campbell and Rosicky. Wilshere is a problem because he can easily play as the B2B instead of Ramsey but will never get picked ahead of Ramsey consistently or he can play in the CAM position but has to edge out the other two players vying for a place there.

    That is why my opinion is so controversial, i say leave the B2B to Ramsey and Diaby, don’t get Jack involved and use him as the CAM. That means in my head i see Jack as a better option than both Ozil and Cazorla. That’s why most people on here think i’m crazy lol but that’s just what i think.

    My 4-2-3-1 would look something like this:
    (taking into account injuries – Theo, Giroud, Gnabry)

    ——————Back four—————-
    —Sanchez—-Wilshere—-The OX—

    ——————Back four—————-

    that still leaves Podolski as an alternative type of striker to be used at any time and Cazorla to be used as either the third choice CAM or anywhere across the AM in an emergency.

    I know it sounds crazy calling Cazorla third choice but with about a million of the same type of player what did Wenger expect.

  • H Bo – I have just given your Top Twenty a run through, and we are not that different in the overall scheme of things.
    I went for 9 players who will make the most starts, you dropped out Szczesney, and had 8. I have a feeling this season our No1 GK will not let his form dip. He seems happy and relaxed, and very focussed this time around. The bad spell that caused him to be dropped coincided with some off-field issues, not helped by his father. So I think Ospina will get games, but will ultimately be less than Szczezzer. Opinion of course, nothing is certain when it comes to this type of prediction.
    I would have loved to have had Gnabry on my list, but I suspect he will be loaned out.. Diaby too. Bellerin I think will be the lock-out sub guy, but may get a few starts if we have a run in both Cups.

    It is a fun exercise, without being too precise, and you get a feel of what AW is hoping for barring injuries. Then there is always a door opening for someone else. I think a few wannabe’s will be out to strut their stuff, beyond Hector and Isaac, although I don’t see many being risked against Southampton. next round may be?

    Thanks for giving it a go.

  • Steve@15:56 – The thing I don’t quite see from Wilshere in that position, is in the league where teams have a solid midfield pairing, they can target him for a quick turnover ball. He looked better at Leicester, but generally he has been dumped on the grass. I don’t think at the moment his ‘creative’ passes are consistent enough either, and he would be that fulcrum from which our success in the final third would depend?

    Much of this will be tried and tested while Ozil is out. If Santi is given the responsibility then Jack will be dropping back, rather than play out wide?
    It would have been even more congested if we signed Reus in the TW as that would be the Wide AM role gone, and Ox would join the queue for the deeper B2B spot? As things stand with Walcott out, Alexis looks like filling that right hand spot, and Ox is a good option on the left, especially as he links well with Danny Boy?

    The COC game might well decide where Chambers is going to be mostly deployed. I am sticking to the thought he will cover Debuchy first, CB, second, with DM a remote 3rd. Not because he cannot play that role, but a tad risky in a league game. I am really hoping that Hayden passes the test, and might even reduce WC as a luxury option?
    We shall see ..

  • Harsh comments from Terry on Mesut, acknowledged by TA. Stats do confirm some of the thoughts (note: Scoles and Lampard stats are from previous season, where they performed better):|premier_league/2012/2013/frank_lampard/64/2/431/33/p|premier_league/2012/2013/paul_scholes/2/2/570/0/p|premier_league/2013/2014/yaya_tour%E9/126/64/555/0/p#goals_scored/assists/key_passes/chances_created/interceptions/tackles_won/successful_take_ons#90

    The stats could also suggest that if our offensive lines converted Mesut’s key passes at the same rate as Man City’s, he could top the chart? If you pull his RM stats, he is above Yaya in goals+assists per 90′.

    Now where do I want him to play? Not left wing (I remember Arsene talking about players’ preferential vision and I think giving the example of Robert who couldn’t “see” passes from right to left, but was outstanding left to right) – I think Mesut’s is more lethal from the right or central location. Central or right unfortunately takes a spot where other players are more efficient… Like with the German team, are we going to isolate Mesut on the left because even though he’s not at his best there, he’s still better than others? I hope not. With Welback top, can Alexis take the left – not his preferred spot either but he seemed quite ok there? That would be great with Theo, Ox, Serge very much attached to the right wing. Or Maybe Welbeck will take his hero’s spot (Thierry), with Alexis top? In any case, in the absence of a pure LW or LAM, I think we have the right strikers to and allow Mesut to express himself better, both with right movement, pace, and conversion rate, even vs tight defenses (which we had 90% of the time last year).

  • Damn… well if you have the courage, you have to concatenate yourself – just remove the space in front of each player’s name and paste into your intenet browser: mesut_özil/126/64/123/0/p|premier_league/2012/2013/ paul_scholes/2/2/570/0/p|premier_league/2012/2013/ frank_lampard/64/2/431/33/p|premier_league/2013/2014/ yaya_touré/126/64/555/0/p#goals_scored/assists/chances_created/successful_take_ons/total_shots/total_duels_%/interceptions/tackles_won#90

  • Hi

    I reckon he’s underrated for defense and offense, frankly. Someone that far up the pitch defensively needs only press the defender’s outlet on turnover and pursue a modest amount. That he has longest running meters per game says heaps.

    Equally, the best players always make it look easy. We seem to expect panting and falling over. So, we love OG and JW among many, but not so much those who seem to do it smoothly. You cannot expect a very forward attacking player to defend all the way to the box. A) you’ve already lost then, and B) you have lost any upfield momentum and you end up with no one forward to outlet the ball to and counter.

    We seem to expect all 5 mids back and our one attacker forward. If that is the case, why isn’t Big Sam coaching Arsenal?? We could easily play hoof-and-a-prayer then and not worry so much about talent, or Europe or many other things..

    I would note that I see him in a 4-4-1-1 as the less forward 1, like

    Sanchez – AR-JW-Theo

    Even when all are healthy (obviously with Theo there). AR already plays both ends and JW should. Both are mongrel enough to be Yaya (without the height) on defense, and score/assist on attack. Neither has the vision or space creation of Ozil. That center threesome of AR/JW+Ozil in a triangle as above, would defend more than adequately and be devastating going forward.

    I don’t forget how he released Theo et al so many times early last season before Theo disappeared. I think he really misses pace and space, which he always had at RM with CR and Benzema and DiMaria and …

    Equally, with Theo coming back, and Sanchez and Welbeck here, look at RM for formations and see the 4-3-3 they played and how they played Ozil. And before you wonder about all his substitutions, most of those games were over at 70mins anyway..

    Just as always my 2p.

    — jgc

  • Here’s some more heresy

    Do we want/need a DM destroyer because our back pairing of Merts and Koz isn’t quick enough?

    Would it not be easier then to sit them deeper in general, and use our new, highly active types (Welbeck and Sanchez) in addition to our old active types (AR, JW, Theo/Ox, Rosicky) to press through a longer middle that would favour the players we have now (speed + Ozil passing)?

    Just some heresy for my Monday morning and your Sunday night

    cheers — jgc

  • Still crooked – sorry TA – this should work – just remove the space in front of each player’s name and in front of “sucesful_take_on” and paste into your internet browser:

    Man City converts twice as many key passes from Yaya than Arsenal converts Özil’s (I know, it doesnt say how clear are those chances…). Interestingly and not so surprisingly with Benzema and Ronaldo at RM, Mesut’s stats are better than Yaya’s.

  • Alcide

    good stats, and it is all about the supporting cast. Which I think we now have more of personally but we will see soon enough!

    cheers — jgc

  • I like your heresy and your 4-4-1-1 line-up jgc… a lot. Do you think we can pull this off – it will require a lot of discipline (or a lot of goals scored!), and I recon most teams will park the bus immediately after seeing the team sheet, negating some of the pace we’d have (although they do so anyway…).

  • Exactly my point in showing these stats jgc – in the context of Nik’s post, I think we may have the right forwards for Mesut to produce more – I should say even more as his last season’s stats per ’90 are quite good..

  • Geoff love the formation and the team, I like the big Sam line too, it’s my philosophy on the DM it is not in our interest for style of play even with Arteta who is a sitting midfielder not a DM. This why IMO JW & AR with enough games can build up an understanding where their first priority is knowing where the other is and one of them don’t pass the centre Circle.

    Alcide some good stats to go with the post and highlight the fact it’s not a one man game as we have all said key passes need runs.

  • Hi Geoff – I agree with what you say, with one difference.

    My thought, as you have also said above, is to use Alexis and Welbeck in the pressing stage, so 4-5-1 if deeper, keeping Ozil high to close down the passing lines if we are defending, but in transition, go through a 1-2 up front, Ozil still the 1,, and with wing-backs and AM’s joining it becomes a 4-2, or even a 2-4?

    It will take a lot of stamina building to perfect that, but with guys like Ramsey, Welbeck and Alexis, who seem naturally gifted, along with Ozil, it is utilizing our players to their strengths.

    And @22:37 – Not Heresy! It is the reality, as long as they work as a unit?

  • Hi Gerry

    We actually agree. I don’t like calling it a 4-5-1 because the expectation becomes that all, ALL!, mids come back and defend (all the time). However that leaves us with no one forward, far to flat and 2D vs 3D, if you will.

    I see Ozil and Welbeck closing lanes and pressing high with perhaps one of Alexis or Theo on the ball side, the other dropping some. That along with AR and JW or other, dare we say B2B, mids filling the middle and the defense sitting somewhat deeper to protect Merts if need be.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Interesting read here that sort of ties in with something Terry wrote about the lack of space.
    Well in this respect at least. Not only can you tire defences out with lots of pressing, you can also draw back and bring the PTB teams forwards, and tire them with counter-attacks?
    Regards the article below, I would add Bellerin to the list of super-subs, particularly paired with Giroud. I would even give him a try as a LW for his ability to cut inside and shoot?

  • Interesting points of views by all. Will Welbeck allow Ozil to shine more? I am not sure. He will play in the Giroud role with back to goal and often we will play PTB teams with no space for Ozil to play his more suited counter football, with the luxury of pace AND space. I reckon Arsene is asking himg to learn to adept to this reality in the PL. Learn to get past a player himself sometimes as to create space, learn to operate in very tight space, finding gaps and combinations, and learn how to get more into scoring positions himself whilst feeding of the main striker. He needs to score more as well to play in the hole.

    In the meantime he has still added a lot of value to the team but more needs to come from him, and I am sure it will.

  • And let’s not forget that the hole position is Arsene’s favourite and only the best will be allowed to play there. Remember Arshavin? I don’t think Ozil is doing enough what Arsene is expecting of him in that role right now and is asking him to learn additional skills on the wing, with still a licence to roam freely.

  • TA – I think some might argue with your second sentence above. Is on the the wing ‘to learn’, or to accommodate others who perform less well out there …
    and almost certainly play less well than he would in their position?

  • Hi

    I tend to agree with Gerry. Sometimes AW puts players out of position to get more better players on (gooder English that!) .. Ie he will play Ozil left because he’s better there than the second choice CAM, which is Santi at the moment. Thus he gets better players, he thinks.

    Does that make sense…? I think it’s hard in words after two glasses of wine, but … I thin AW tries to maximize the quality of players playing at, sometimes, the cost of the whole…

    — jgc

  • “he will play Ozil left because he’s better there than the second choice CAM”

    Exactly – just like with the German team.

  • TA, Gerry, & Prof

    One think I forgot to add yesterday was that a lot of Ozils killer passes are more horizontal in nature than vertical.

    In this respect, he reminds even more of Robert Pires than DB10

  • Alcide, good statistical defence of Ozil my friend.

    However, I have lost count of how many times ive come away from a game feeling “underwhelmed” by Mesuts performance.

    Its just not me, my impression is that a large section of the support feel the same.

  • Who would play better there, Gerry, especially against PTB? Maybe Alexis and that’s it. And it is no secret that Arsene has players on the wing who also have the freedom to roam….don’t tell me this is new to you?

  • Spot on again, Terry. There is a Pires in Ozil, but big shoes to fill.

    Let’s also not forget that the real ‘wing play’ is coming from the full backs whilst our official wingers need to both set them up and have a go themselves now and again, and this suits Ozil and Alexis like a glove.

    Cazorla? Super sub IMO. 🙂

  • Terry

    Always the question,p. Did the other team play badly or did we make it look easy against a good team. A general rule of football, the harder you’re working the worse it’s going. When you are dominant and going well, there is some work of course, but it’s easier than when it’s not going well…

    I cannot count the teams I coached against who couldn’t understand why they were losing, and badly, when they were clearly working harder.

    Same is true at every level. The best players work less because they know more. AR two years ago vs now.. Working hard but apparently less so. Merts and Koz appear to run and work less together than Merts and TV.. And so on.. Thierry looked forever smooth, because it seemed he only ran when he had to…

    And so on — jgc

  • Ozil is not a Bergkamp nr.10 nor a Fabregas nr.10 – both different types – but I still want to see him play there with Alexis and Theo on ‘the wings’ and Welbeck upfront to give him another chance in the hole.

  • TA

    Agreed, first part of last year until Theo left he was awesome!! Loss of speed threat and some fatigue likely did the rest …

    Now, we have speed to spare. I am hopeful that, despite my liking of OG, Welbeck will go well enough to keep him second choice.

    I’m a dreamer maybe!?

    — jgc

  • TA

    Waipara Valley, NZ .. 45 mins north of me.. Torlesse Cab-Merlot

    The best wines in NZ from one who has sampled me all. Their best are whites, Pinot Gris and Gewurtztraminer…

    Cheers — jgc

  • When there is space Welbeck will do well, and I am also looking fwd to his runs in tighter space, as he is energetic and a quick thinker and anticipater. But OGs hold up play is awesome and so important against the PTB and DW has some big shoes to fill. But I can see where you are coming and do agree.

  • In part, you answered your question to me with your next response? The other part is simple, don’t play both.
    I said earlier, Ox would be another option wide left, or Campbell even, if he has built up his fitness levels to maintain a threat? But we are not talking wingers here. Simply guys with pace and drive. With Welbeck the option in the middle it calls for quick passes that cut through defences to maximise the the space created by himself and others.

    What’s this Terry about passes being horizontal? If they result in goals then fine. Crosses are horizontal too? It is the build up play out of defence that are key. The lack of movement off the ball so far has resulted in sideways tika taki, but that is not down to the player who wants to play it forwards.

    Come back in October and tell me I am wrong?

    Agreed again Geoff 😀

    Dog walking ….later

  • Could have had Kevin Doyle on the left wing!

    Great post, Nik.

    Back later…………. and still NOT happy with manUre blood in the team…….

  • Horizontal in a good way Gerry, not in a way suffered after an argument with a bunch of scaffolders.

    Pires was the master of this . He could pick out a killer pass in the penalty area often leading to a goal. Great passes can be at any angles.

    I can only judge by what I see. Stats and formation talk is great but I prefer making my own mind up by watching.

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