I've been a strong supporter of Mesut Özil since he joined Arsenal. When the criticism came his way last season I remained steadfast in my support of him and again this season when questions have been asked, I've held firm in my support. However I feel it's time there was an honest debate about him, his performances & contribution to the Arsenal team.
So far this season, apart from away at Villa, has there been a game where Özil has had a significant contribution in a match?
To be fair to him, he came back to the club late, with no preseason after winning the World Cup with Germany in the summer. He's had little recovery time and has had to catch up quickly. Those things need to be factored in to his early performances because they are relevant. Now we are in October, the season is well underway and I don't think those issues should now be relevant.
Against Chelsea, there was a massive opportunity for him and indeed the entire team to right some wrongs after last season’s mauling & our long standing struggle to beat the big teams. Özil is a hugely gifted, world class player who has the ability to be the difference in a game. With the best will in the world, it won't always be the case but with some drive, determination & application it can happen, at least sometimes. Today what we got from Özil was absolutely nothing, he was anonymous from start to finish. Yes his body language is usually lethargic but his end product isn't and shouldn't be. What looks to be lacking is his drive, determination & frankly on occasion, his effort to at least try to influence the game. He isn't & shouldn't be the scapegoat for the result but it's not unreasonable to question him?
If I was Santi Cazorla, I'd be incredibly pissed off after the Chelsea game. As one of the more creative & influential players in our team, he got substituted whilst Özil who contributed much, much less stayed on the pitch. Is that fair? I think not.
What concerns me is that right now Özil is getting in the team week in, week out on reputation alone, not on his form or contribution.
Lots of people say, Özil is a £42 million pound player therefore we should expect more. I say, forget the price tag, he didn't choose how much Arsenal chose to pay for his services. However we did so because he is a world class talent, a potential game change who can & has influenced games brilliantly in the past. Maybe the price tag is a weight on his shoulders but if it is it shouldn't be. It's recognition of his immense talent.
Last season we saw glimpses of the real Mesut Özil. His early season form in particular was outstanding yet and understandably so it tailed off, in part due to the injuries to the players around him who he fed off but mostly due to the rigours of the Premier League which for any player take their toll in their first season. Now that's not an issue, nor is the lack of talent around him. Yes, he's not always playing in his favoured number 10 role but he's a world class player and world class players find a way to fashion the best from what they've got. After all, for Germany he hasn't always played that central role yet he's often thrived.
So, I have come to feel that I, as I know other Arsenal fans do, have a problem with Mesut Özil right now. He is too good a player to be delivering so little. We can and should expect more & if he can't deliver then Wenger should have the guts to say, sorry Mesut I need to substitute you or leave you out of the team.
I am delighted that he's an Arsenal player, I don't buy into the "if we didn't have Özil we could've got Cesc back" line of thought and I don't buy the "Özil isn't that great" line either, but I do think we have every right to expect more from him and if I was Wenger right now I'd take him out of the team and get him to work harder to deserve a place in our next starting line-up. Also, if I was Joachim Löw who was apparently at the Chelsea game, I'd leave him out of the Germany starting line up right now too.
Mesut, I love that you play for us but please prove to us why you should be in the team right now?
Mean Lean's Response
Given that it is the International break, I assumed this article would be fine sitting for a few days while I caught up with everything life. But I should have known better than to think our Arsenal players were safe from injury, even when there wasn't any football.
First of all you expressed your thoughts very well above. When Mesut Özil isn't at his best then his style of play can come back and bite him on the arse. He doesn't give us much defensively and he doesn't grab games by the neck as the phrase goes.
Stamford Bridge wasn't his finest hour and quite literally I would suggest.
Until Hazard effectively won the game for Chelsea with the late first half penalty, Mesut was involved in a lot of our probing going forward. When Chelsea dropped back and killed the spaces, Mesut went from bad to worse.
While Santi was head and shoulders the better player on the day, I am guessing that he kept Özil on the pitch instead because he is a key pass machine and with spaces limited, we would have needed the added quality of pass if we were to break arguably the best bus parkers in Europe.
While Özil was disappointing for the most part, I thought I had glimpses of him returning to his best form in the weeks prior. I also thought the 4141 that Arsene looks to be sticking to for the most part seemed to be functioning better. With Ramsey, Walcott amongst a few others returning after the break topped off with a kinder fixture list (on paper) I had convinced myself that we would start to see Arsenal shoot up the performance ladder and the same with Mesut himself. Given that we would be playing some of the lesser sides in coming weeks, you would expect a few more bus parking sessions to be on full show, especially at the Emirates. So losing the one man who can consistently find the breakthrough with his passing is troubling. Those who suggested that we didn't need Özil when we signed him should have a think about what player in our squad is able to rack up the same key passing numbers. There simply isn't.
That is not an excuse to lust over Chelsea players by the way.
We bought Mesut Özil to make the difference in games and with Theo Walcott very close to returning it is so frustrating that we will be missing yet another key player for such a long time.