Question: Is Mesut Ozil a Conundrum, an Asset or a Liability?
I ask, because if we believe the various media outlets, and unfortunately many do blindly, he is all three.
Take the latest stories of how he wants to quit Arsenal, and see how it is possible that a simple statement made in answer to a question by a team mate can develop, in a ‘Chinese whisper’ sort of way, to what the headlines read a couple of days later.
Ozil went to join up with the Germany squad, and although he never played, he would have had time to chat with his colleagues. They won the World Cup together, so they are amongst friends. Some are at new clubs and they discuss how they are doing there. Innocent question pops up, ‘Would you fancy playing at this club?’ Answer, ‘Possibly. One day, maybe’.
That is all it would take for this message to be passed along the line, until it reaches a manager of that club who has expressed an interest in the player, to then release that via a ‘tame’ journalist to spread the word ‘Ozil wants to leave Arsenal’. UK journo’s who love to stick the knife in, add ‘in January’ to their headline. Note also then how they respond to Arsene Wenger’s answers. ‘Wenger would be unhappy to lose Ozil in January’ … still leaving the idea it would be okay in the summer, even though that was never said?
When I read or hear comments, I take some on board if I think what they are saying has credibility, and the people who are saying it are in a position to speak with accuracy and experience.
Take this example. I heard Graham Souness talking at the half-time interval during a match recently. He was saying what he knew about cruciate ligament injuries, not from his own experience, but from other players that have had them. As it happens, he was talking about Falcao, but it does have relevance to Theo Walcott, and others of Arsenal interest. The crux of it was, when a players suffers these injuries the knee does not feel as ‘tight’ as it used to, and this can affect a player’s confidence. There is a slight ‘looseness or wobble’ which they have to get comfortable with. Again, with reference to Falcao, he said it is worse the older the player is when they get the injury. ‘Younger players can recover fully, but once they get over the age of 25, the difficulties arise’.
I find this credible, because Souness would know of a number of players who would have suffered this type of injury, and even allowing for advances in medical treatment, still many players do not get back to the level of ability they once had, so this explanation might have some substance?
So I ask, what makes any sense of Arsenal buying Sammy Khedira? One thing, the possibility of a low fee, even if that is off-set by the reported wage demand. Again, how much can we trust in that our ‘agreed terms’ suggest he settled for £100k, not £200, or £155k per week, as his demands were earlier reported? The other plus is his relationship with Ozil, on and off field. If he could link up with Mesut and bring the very best out of him week in, week out, then he would truly be a bargain.
The downside is, will Khedira’s knees hold out in the EPL, week in, week out?
I also read of a Chelsea interest. At first glance, he does not seem a player Chelsea need? They are pretty solid in the defensive midfield area, and why trade a younger, fit player, for a potential bench warmer? I think their ‘interest’ lies more in affecting Arsenal. Whatever way this saga goes, I do not see Khedira as the player we need. That said, will Ozil see this as another slight on his reason for signing? He gets played out of position, more on that later, and then does not get the one player he can rely on him to support him on and off field?
Another half-time chat I listened to during an England game was Glenn Hoddle on Wilshere. He was doing his usual bit on Wilshere underperforming, but he went on to say, ‘that in this ‘new’ role Jack had been given as the ‘holding midfielder’, that he would have to be more disciplined’. ‘He needs to stay back as he cannot do the 40 yard runs and get into the box for the return pass. Too often he goes straight into a crowded midfield, and if he loses possession there, he opens us(England) to a counter attack. So he must stay back and play for the team’.
That was the gist of it, but it struck a chord with me. We know Arsenal play a different format whilst they experiment with the 4-1-4-1 formation. As there is usually a defensive midfielder in place, and Jack either does the box to box stuff, or more recently, plays higher up the field.
This to me is where the Ozil conundrum comes in. Because of Wilshere’s tendency to operate in the centre ground, no matter where his starting line up is. In doing so, he takes away from much of what Ozil can do best. And what Ozil does best is when the centre field is not cluttered, and he can move in and out of that area, no matter what position he is notionally assigned to.
So can we play Wilshere in the same team as Ozil? Well not if they both have the same freedom to move into preferred areas, in my honest opinion.
Now if Wilshere is being groomed for the long term holding midfield role for England, and Hoddle was overjoyed at his performance that night, then perhaps he should do the same in the Arsenal line up? Yes, it will mean him giving up the idea of being the Number 10 conductor of attacks in and around the box, which will not go down too well with him or his many supporters? But I don’t suppose Arteta was overjoyed when he converted in a similar way. So does that make Arteta more of a ‘team’ player than Wilshere? If he takes it on board as a new challenge, and uses his skills more on reading the game, rather than just diving into tackles, where he risks as much injury as he does when he ‘puts his body on the line’ drawing fouls, or not, as the case may be, when he gets clattered going forwards. I think if he is serious about modeling himself on Alonso, then it ought to be for club and Country? Let’s not forget that some of those passes from deep were very Cesc-esque, or straight out of the ‘book of Alonso’. He must have enjoyed that, as well as his overall contribution?
Perhaps he should start thinking of a long term career in this pivotal role, rather than a short term, injury ridden, glory seeking one playing up front? Then both he and Arsenal could benefit?
It would also go a long way in solving the Ozil conundrum?
Now, is Mesut Ozil an Asset?
I want to use this quote from Milo in yesterday’s post:
First and maybe most important point: He opens he field and direction of play up, more than any other high profile number 10 or playmaker, by NOT being afraid to move the ball, or run sideways. Everyone always is looking for the big, flashy, vertical ball over the top, but when it’s not there, he refuses to force it and I admire that…Greatly. He certainly has the vision and skill to execute more difficult passes. His tendency to drift sideways results in him looking like a drifter, but he’s like the knight in a game of chess. Not always flashy, but LETHAL. No one has figured it out yet, but I tend to think his lack of production has more to do with Arsenal’s and Arsene’s tactics than it has with Mesut?
This was an excellent bit of insight which might have got lost, as it was not related to the post in question. Milo came to this conclusion through watching past videos. I wonder how many of Ozil’s critics have done this?
We have only seen flashes of what ‘the best number 10 in the world’ can do this season. But when we had a nearly fully fit squad last season, he was on fire. The plague of injuries this time has really upset the rhythm of the side. Despite the new signings being great additions, it does take time to gel properly. Ozil was late returning from the World Cup, and he is not the only player to find it difficult to get back to some sort of form at league level. No sooner does he play with the freedom that suits his game, and the line up is changed once more. My big criticism in his last game was the very unusual number of times he gave away possession. If he was carrying the injury that now requires him to have a 10 week break, it may well explain his lack of touch that day?
Over the next few games we will see if we can cope without him. But more importantly, we will see what a difference he makes in a fully fit squad in the New Year when he returns. He is an asset we most definitely need, but we need the team to work so he can produce his magic. Otherwise, and I will quote Milo again, we will miss ‘facets of his game that are either underrated/undervalued or go completely unrecognized’. But they are the very bits that help make the magic he can produce when conditions are right?
If we do miss out on him be able to produce his best, that would be a sad day for anybody who appreciates a quality footballer.
Liability? Never ….when he has quality players that move as a unit, and has the space to work in.
If he fails, then we must look at what is failing him …First!
In the meantime, we have to play without him. Who plays where, will be the subject of the next post. I just hope there is not a scramble of players all thinking they can step into his shoes, and we end up with an endless pattern of reshuffles?
Many thanks to Milo for inspiring the angle of this post.
Written by: Gerry.