Mesut Ozil was unable to find a reprieve from his recent on-the-pitch problems as he was booed off the pitch by his own home fans in Germany’s 1-0 victory over Chile.
The Gunners playmaker, despite astutely assisting Mario Gotze’s only goal of the game, received rapturous boo’s as he departed for Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter a minute from time.
This comes following a difficult period for the former Real Madrid star in English football. Arriving for a lofty and club-record fee of 42.5m, Ozil appeared to hit the ground running and was a main catalyst behind Arsenal’s ability to compete at the very top of the table once again. In recent weeks however, it’s been well documented that Ozil looks lethargic and is struggling to keep pace with the Premier Leagues ferociously unrelenting nature.
This is also the first season of the 25 year-old’s career where he hasn’t had the luxury of a winter break, which both Germany and Spain include. Regardless of the adaptation and acclimatising involved in a transfer to a new country, certain responsibilities and expectations come with the fee unfortunately.
It could be argued that Ozil’s style is somewhat highlighted for critique when he is playing poorly. Though not quite in Dimitar Berbatov’s league, Arsenal’s number 11 looks composed and almost relaxed at all times on the pitch. He rarely even really shows frustration, he simply maintains a stoic surface. It’s one thing to be a new player and have an allowance to adjust, but being touted a ‘world-class’ player kind of exonerates that argument.
It must be remembered, Arsenal did not buy Ozil to hound opponents and cover every blade of grass. Those players are a dime a dozen in comparison to the immense quality and vision Ozil can exert on a game. Also, the fee doesn’t equate to everything. If you believe that monetary estimations are direct indicators of a player, then in theory, Gareth Bale is twice the player of Ozil. Now, I rate Bale as much as the next guy – but come on.
Some of the Premier Leagues biggest stars have struggled to set the world alight in their first season after finding pastures new.
Sticking with Arsenal, take Robert Pires for example, who went on to be a double-winner and invincible with Arsenal. In his first season, in 33 games he returned four goals and seven assists. That combined total was his smallest return in his six seasons in the red-half of north-London. Thierry Henry too arrived at Arsenal a confidence shot winger. In his first two seasons, he scored 17 in each (nothing to scotch at) however, in the five seasons that preceded those two Henry scored over 24 every time. In 2002/03, he scored 24 goals and laid on 23 assists. He followed that unbelievable record up with 30 league goals the very next campaign.
I see similar patterns between the aforementioned club legends of yesteryear and todays mercurial talent, Mesut Ozil.
This is by no means a bad season so far for Ozil at all. He still has eight assists to his name this term and that’s only two off the peak of that particular stat in the Premier league (currently Luis Suarez). He’s also chipped in 4 goals in his 22 appearances, 12 of which he has completed the full 90 minutes.
Fans pining for the ‘assist every other game’ moniker he developed at Real Madrid talk like that kind of form is a million miles off when it really isn’t. Olivier Giroud has really been the only forward outlet for Arsenal this entire season, what if Theo Walcott was around to take advantage of Ozil’s threaded passes? Being the master of the through ball isn’t all that helpful to a target man.
Someone of Ozil’s star quality has indeed had a direct effect on Arsenal. In the way of exits and arrivals, Ozil is virtually the only noticeable change. Arsenal are 12 points better off than they were at this stage last season and have been genuine title contenders thus far. His simple retention of the ball and movement is probably underestimated by the untrained eye.
Then you see away days like Liverpool. Don’t get me wrong, every player has off days no matter how great, but that was something to behold. A combination of a lacklustre Ozil and a Liverpool firing on all cylinders made for a terrible, terrible day for the German.
Mesut Ozil IS class. Make no mistake about it. Arsenal are in a period of evolution, where no longer do big names need to be sold and Arsene Wenger can afford to dip more than a proverbial toe in the market. Ozil will be accompanied by more high-calibre names in the near future. Whether that takes the pressure and spotlight off him or it presents more opportunities and quality support – either way it’s good news for Arsenal.
Stick with Ozil, whether you’re German or a Gunner.