Magic Messy: Ozil Orchestrating–The One Consistent Element Which has Kept Arsenal

In it this Season?


The jury, increasingly it seems, is coming around to the idea that maybe our Messy, one Mesut Ozil, is actually NOT nicking a living.

In fact, Arsenal management is so convinced that they’re planning on giving him a lucrative contract extension, insuring that he’s our highest paid player and one who will spend the best years of his career in the red shirt with the white sleeves.

Of course, maybe like his former manager at Real Madrid, one Jose Boo-Hoo-Moo-rinho, he’s just trying to get the big contract so he can go into a negative spiral and laugh all the way to the bank.

I digress.  Apologies.  I don’t think so.

Instead, what I believe is that Arsene Wenger has finally found the player of his dreams.  The one behind the scenes who pulls the strings, runs the gears and, if absolutely necessary, steps into the spotlight for a quick moment or two.  And best of all, one who seems dedicated to the project.  Not since Dennis, I hate to say…

Some, having dug in their heels, will continue to argue that Ozil isn’t worth the money and that only a player willing to carry the team, Alexis, er, Atlas-style, upon their shoulder, is worth both the money or the praise.

I love Alexis Sanchez but I disagree.

As much as our culture prizes the individual, football is a team game.  For every Messi who wins the Ballon d’Or there must be a Xavi or an Iniesta.  Note that when that other fellow in La Liga won his first Ballon d’Or he had Ozil pulling the strings for him.  Our man in the middle may never win the award himself, but that doesn’t mean we should underestimate his contribution.  It’s also possible that there wasn’t quite enough ball at Barcelona for both Alexis and Messi.

I would go even further.  I would say that modern football is a game out of whack.  Before television and the internet, players and fans of the game knew that it was a low scoring game full of hard work and, often times, little or no reward in terms of goals.  Showing determination is one thing, but results have forever hinged on luck, referees and moxie, also known as gamesmanship.  Stories, based on careful observati0n over time, become legends.  Some of the great players have titles to go with their grainy black and white films, others live in the minds and hearts of those who saw them in their pomp and are truly revered.

Now, however, as we can compress the moments of glory into highlight reels–and computer programs can turn goals and assists into fantasy statistics.  The game is watched differently.  Production is the key and, if you don’t produce (hell, even if you do…) there’s money (at some clubs) to buy somebody who will.

Ah well, so it goes…

Arsenal sit 2nd in the table behind Leicester City in the wildest Premier League season I can recall.  The teams with the money–Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool–sit 16th, 3rd, 4th and 9th.

They might all–including Arsenal–blame injuries.  (Chelsea, of course, with the Moo-Man’s sacking, are blaming the manager, as Liverpool did with Brendan Rodgers…)  Should we too be looking for someone to blame? Instead, I think, we should be looking to give credit.  Who has kept us near the top?

Stats are one indicator.  13 assists and 2 goals tells a story but so too does fitness and the ability to simply take the pitch and do a job.  On that account there are only a few players in this Arsenal team who have been able to answer that call: Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil.  ALL other Arsenal players have succumbed to injury (or illness) at some point in the season.

Some will argue, “Well, that’s the manager’s fault.  Players get hurt-especially if they play the game at full tilt.”  Ironically, in the eyes of many supporters, getting injured probably makes players better.  It may not add to their statistical totals but absence–if results are not satisfying–probably makes the heart grow fonder.  If I had a dime (or a tuppence…) for every time I saw hopeful bloggers proposing some injured or youth player is a potential solution at Arsenal… Well, I’d have some coins to play with… (A dime for every transfer target that would put us over the top and I might try to buy Kroenke’s spot on the board…)

So, when in doubt, instead of longing for more I think we might be better served by a moment of appreciation.

Ozil, for me at least, is probably the best player at Arsenal since the stadium move.  There was plenty of hope that Cesc Fabregas would lead a new generation in the new venue.  Robin van Persie (speaking of the injured…) might have been the man to put away Cesc’s visionary passes.  Samir Nasri was an enticing prospect.  Sure, we have had some great positional players, but I’m talking about men to build a team around.

We also have Alexis and I understand why some will always prefer his play.  Determined, head down and unafraid to take his chances, he is the essence of the modern footballer.  To think we snatched him up just a year after we got Ozil–and that his heroics carried us a year ago when Ozil and Giroud and Ramsey and Theo ALL were hurt–Well, he’s a hero just for that.  He also is a player who clearly wears his passion on his sleeve and one who never lets his shoulders sag, even when he’s as tired as the dogs with whom he loves to play.

Ozil loves dogs too.  Can you find the 2nd one in the photo?

Why compare Ozil to Alexis–or one dog with another?  They all have their qualities and, for me at least, I’d rather watch them play together than have a fight.

Different breeds for different folks, or something, and Alexis and Ozil are very different players but maybe a complementary pair.

Compared to Alexis’ “never say die,” and “try, try again,” body language, Ozil seems a perfectionist.  When moves break down he cannot help show his disappointment.  Even when he scores he looks as if he isn’t quite satisfied and working a bit to remember his goal celebration.  There’s almost a moment of hesitation suggesting that maybe he could have kept the ball just a bit further from the keeper or, better yet, found a teammate who was even better placed to take the goal.  The stats say it and the body language seems an echo: for Messy, giving IS better than receiving (or taking).

It’s something to think about (maybe) as the big gift giving holiday is upon us…

What do you think, fellow Gooners?  What do you want in your stocking?  Or, maybe like Ozil, you would prefer to give out some presents (or shouts)…

For me, I’ll take more of the same, please, with maybe a few more fit and in-form fellas to help our #10 keep shining behind the scenes.  If we can get results and maybe get a few minutes off for our thoroughbred, all the better.

So, Santi, er Santa… For this festive season, all I want is more of that same old Mess(y)…


Thanks in advance… 😀

by 17highburyterrace

15 thoughts on “Magic Messy: Ozil Orchestrating–The One Consistent Element Which has Kept Arsenal

  • Good writeup 17ht,

    Ozil and Alexis plus Rambo with Le Coq keeps our core play intact..

    I am not sure when Le Coq will be back, but we need him to do the dirty work to protect our backline. Flams and Rambo is good in protecting the guys at the back, but we are missing something.

    With Ozil and Alexis, they can only do so much to get us the goals and the balance we need, but the whole team deserves a mention.. from Cech, who has been outstanding, to Ollie, who is good at giving out attackers some added space.

    When i mentioned earlier this season that we are playing like the title winning Arsenal team, i am not seeing things. However, 11 members of the team have to work hard, like what we saw last week.

    So, with manc oilers our next opponent, i would like to see more of Ozil magic against the less mobile midfielders of Oilers, and that will be a good gauge of what to expect against top teams.

    So, to your question TA, i would like in my stocking a DM like Wanyama or someone that plays in the italian league that tackles really well.

    The rest is unnecessary.


  • Another 17HT tour de force. Cheers. 🙂

    In a nutshell: yes it is a team sport and Ozil directs the play for us. He is very important and we love him. We have a large number of top quality players, and as Ozil is our best midfielder, Alexis is our best attacker. They are both as important to the team and I am not going to choose between them. Ramsey has been electric in the last few games and is also very important, and I could go on with other key players. It is a team sport.

    What I have started to notice is that Ozil seems even better with Ramsey behind him, a more typical b2b midfielder than Santi. This needs more observation, but Ramsey’s ability to run between the boxes appears to give Mesut more options AND space to operate in.

    By the way, why do you call him Messy, or Our Messy?

  • TA,

    Don’t you think that he has good left foot and quick thinking? Although Messi has also a goalscoring touch, they look similar in what they can bring to their team.


  • TA, true, but like for like positions Ozil and Messi is similar.

    We might have a chance if Alexis, Ozil and Theo are all 100%.


    PS.. looking forward to preview of the northern Oilers match.

  • TA, it’s like a morgue around here… 😦 At least JK is looking forward to a match preview… 😀

    Worse, there’s no early match from Engerland… Argh…

    I only call him “Our Messy” to differentiate with the other guy who is also a world class player, a guy to build a team around. Of course they are very different players… It’s a bit like differentiating between the two Ronaldos who cycled through Real Madrid like they used to do: First there was fat Ronaldo and now there’s steroid Ronaldo… 😀 😦

    IMO (obviously, maybe too obviously…) it’s good that we have such a player. Maybe the post was too far towards hagiography (too full of praise, not enough critique, maybe?)… Or maybe I should have just put the question out there more plainly: Is Ozil the player to build the team around? With a new contract for him (and Alexis) I think that’s clearly the plan, and I also think it’s clear which guy brings the more consistent performance levels even if the other brings the more consistent (or obvious) enthusiasm…

    I also maybe could have made the post more ‘controversial’ by noting that Ozil is–in many ways–the least “English” player a team might build around given that he plays under control, prefers less obvious orchestrating (to goals and glory…) and keeps a keen eye out to avoid stupid challenges and injuries… Touch wood, of course. When he did get hurt (vs Mourinho’s thugs…) we really struggled w/o him–even if some (idiots…including Arsenal ‘supporters’…) thought his injury was not at all a bad thing and will always accuse him of ‘lack of passion’ whenever a result fails to satisfy… That might be the same audience who got excited about our Brit-Core phase which, to me at least, seemed purely a marketing scheme designed to bridge the gap (and fill the seats in the stadium) after Cesc/Nasri (then RvP and Song soon after) departed…

    Anyhow, the post went over like the proverbial concrete (or heavy metal) flying balloon, so apologies all around…

    What’s up at your end, Gaffer?…

    Did the timing or the inspiration for a post about the former Chelsea manager go away? Do you have anything else in the hopper? What’s the plan here?

    I will write a match preview this morning and I can also do the live-blog thing on Monday at noon. (I’m also fine with skipping one or both…) If it’s just you and me (…at least JK keeps wanting/demanding more…) it seems like it could be time to say Merry Christmas and send our best wishes (rather than our Arsenal writing…) out into the ether. Or maybe it’s more like Easter and we should cut the corpse down off the cross and bury it, allowing for potential (but not at all required…) resurrection…

    Happy Saturday….

  • Hi there HT. Boy is it quiet – but I can’t complain myself having been away for a number of days.

    I totally agree with the thrust of your article. Ozil is a player of exceptionally rare quality, though his brilliance is not of an extravagant nature. For me he is a player in the echelons of Liam Brady and Dennis himself, who brings a whole team together. What he needs to show off his talents though is quality around him – he showed that fully at Real Madrid, and when we are at full strength he has been showing it again this season. Sanchez is almost as valuable to our team, but for different reasons – he complements Ozil, but he also sets a standard of commitment for others to emulate; and if that rubs off on others, especially the younger players, then it will serve us well for the future.

    The question we all come back to is whether we have the very top talent around Ozil in our squad to help him show his abilities, and turn chance creation into full assists. If Sanchez, Giroud, Theo and Rambo behind them were all on form together, with Ozil pulling the strings, then we could see some serious fireworks! Are there better than Giroud and Theo? Possibly, but not by a huge margin I think – we tend to view clips of overseas stars like greener grass; the stats never (mostly) look much better however.

    I would love to see Danny or the Ox suddenly start to fulfil their potential and give us speed, strength, movement and finishing around Ozil. We are so close to something really special, and Ozil is the most critical component to it all.

  • Excellent piece, 17.

    I must admit I agree with you with your (for some probably too harsh) valuation of The British Core. The only one that has been consistent is the non-English one.

    Chambers – two own goals aside, he looks like he could become a good player for the club. Hopefully he’ll learn a lot from Per in terms of positioning and anticipation as he will never be able to rely on his pace.

    Gibbs – his career has been slowed down by injuries. However, I can’t help myself thinking he should have never let Nacho take his place away from him. He has never learned to use his right foot, he has been bombing forward a lot without the final product and his positioning has been the reason why the opponents could exploit our left flank.

    Wilshere – too many injuries. One of the reasons our English core hasn’t fulfilled its potential is the fact they have spent years in the treatment room. Wilshere is a new Diaby with his ankle problems. Again, lack of that infamous final product, lack of defensive awareness and, whisper it, he hasn’t shown that he is the sharpest tool in the box.

    Ox – I’m crying whenever I watch him this season. Lack of final product, injuries, poor decisions in the final third, dribbling in the dangerous area… He has been involved in more goals of the opponents than of our own this season.

    Walcott – injuries more than anything else. He doesn’t have the most powerful shot either or ability to emulate Henry’s curlers in a way he would like to do it. Unlike the others, he actually has some final product to show. His weaker foot is, indeed, his weaker foot.

    Welbeck – injury and awful conversion rate. Other than that, I think we miss him a lot. He is strong, powerful, intelligent player who knows how to use his frame and pace to beat the opponent but has to improve his finishing. Can’t wait to see him back.

    Özil – he could a role model for Ox and Wilshere. Ox can learn a lot about vision and decisions in the final third from Messy while Wilshere can learn about avoiding dangerous fouls.

  • A bit late to the party, but good work 17…

    You have to chuckle when critics of Arsenal ‘dig out’ Mesut Ozil…
    I’ve had the distinct feeling that the ‘usual suspects’ have never quite got over the shock of Wenger signing Mesut. I mean, it didn’t really fit in with their theme of Arsenal failing to bring in players of his standing.
    So, if it doesn’t fit the critique, attack the individual, criticise his style, deliberately ignore what he brings to the party.
    Frankly I couldn’t give a toss.
    I’ve always rated Ozil and was delighted we got him whilst constantly pinching myself when I see him in an Arsenal shirt – just as I do when I see Alexis and Cech…

    I love this current team, and I’m loving this season…

  • Now those are a couple of fine comments… Worth the wait…almost… 😀

    AB continues in the more appreciative mode while Admir takes up my harsher comments (from the comment)…I find nothing to disagree with in either one…

    For me, it’s a very rare young player who has both the quality AND the intelligence to stay fit. Luck is a factor, of course, but so too is wisdom. Taking care of one’s body is far easier if you’re in the gym not just for the glance in the mirror and the selfies for later posting… The fitness team takes care of some of that but accidents can happen on the sidewalks outside the clubs when you head out for your smoke… :shakes head:

    In a lot of ways it’s all a numbers game. Buy ’em young (and cheap) and sell them at their peak–often to the teams which take them on loan. Do that often enough and you can take a punt on an Ozil or an Alexis and Stan can still watch the bottom line go up and up and up…. Welbeck, to me, seemed another good cast-off from a deeper spending team, his injury issues seem newer and truly unlucky.

    Like AB says, Alexis is an example of good commitment to the cause–those Western Hemisphere types are taught to pull out of challenges not just to get the call but also for self-preservation. In truth, if we want to say which is “our Messi,” it’s probably him. Like I wrote in the piece, the analysis from Cules I know is that there just wasn’t enough ball for the both of them…

    So, I hope he learns (from Ozil) to respect spacing and use his teammates just that little bit more. Together, in terms of technical players, it’s a fantastic complementary pair. Giroud brings the size and power, Theo the pace, Ramsey the engine. If those guys, in turn, keep Ozil from appearing frustrated, we’ve got ourselves a bit of an attack, I think… (And what, exactly, Real Madrid were thinking when they bought Bale and sold Ozil is hard to fathom… I guess they ‘trusted’ his former Spud-mate, Luka Modric–a fine player himself–just a bit too much…)

    The English boys will have to fill in as the (inevitable) aging happens. A bit of ruthlessness and continuing the numbers game with (more) astute buys of ready-to-contribute players (from AW) completes the picture…

    In my opinion…

  • Your comment, too, A-kev, is much appreciated… Sorry to (simul-)post over it…

    I know TA doesn’t do “speculation” but I think this window has to be seen as different (due to the injuries)…Teams needing some funds *should* be falling over themselves to cash in with a sale to Arsenal… Now, we just need to get to the window in reasonable shape…

  • Cheers 17 for explaining why Mesut is called our Messy for you. 🙂

    Re the Brit pack I reckon Admir is premature. We can only judge when injuries stop holding Jack back. Jack, Rambo, Gibbs and possibly Chambers could all become core to the team in the next few years.

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