Whatever side of the Mesut Ozil fence you sit, there is something we may have collectively overlooked while examining his form and contribution this season. The German’s form has tended to fluctuate between three levels, poor, average and exceptional and this season, there’s been more of the first two, than the last.
So what’s happened to Ozil ? Why the dip in form and will he ever be the player he was when Arsenal decided to buy him for £42.5m in 2013.
"I'm not for selling someone like Mesut Özil because Mesut Özil is the kind of player you want in your team. The amount of chances that Mesut Ozil is making on a regular basis, he's top in all five European leagues."
– Ian Wright pic.twitter.com/inFCzbdgUs
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) May 23, 2019
Well, let’s look a few possible factors that could have, in theory, thrown his game. Firstly, there was the German debacle, when Ozil was pictured with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Well he has Turkish ancestry, so why not ?
After that incident, Ozil was treated like a molester by the German nation and the repercussions from this innocuous meeting led to unparalleled criticism and unprecedented abuse. Ozil decided to quit the international stage and who could blame him.
So, that was good for Arsenal right ? Apparently not, his form spluttered during the failed World Cup campaign and has continued ever since. Secondly and probably more profoundly, Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United split the pair just when they had started to form a meaningful and productive partnership.
Is it a coincidence that the Chileans form has all but disappeared along with Ozil’s touch and assist record ? Sanchez obviously felt that if he made the run during a game, Ozil would find him and he always seemed to. Together they were a menace, a genuine threat, an unpredictable and uncontainable force. Separately they became average or less, although Ozil at least, has shown flashes of his former self.
It’s been a general assumption that Ozil is lazy, lackadaisical, and without intensity. His body language fits that perception perfectly but is the reason simply that he has no one on the same wave length ?
Sanchez was ,but surely he could cultivate something similar with Aubameyang and Lacazette ? No, these are very different players to Sanchez, who creatively and technically was a level above both. Now before anyone starts throwing cushions or grinding their teeth, it’s not meant to be a criticism of either of Arsenal’s current strikers, it’s just a realisation that some partnerships yield great rewards and others less so.
Mesut Ozil’s agent: “Mesut will be staying until at least 2021, and the fans need not to worry about the gossip that may come this summer. He has found a place he feels welcome and believes he has a lot more to give. He bleeds Arsenal and respecting his contract is a certainty.” pic.twitter.com/3eWTyM6Iyi
— Natter Football (@NATTERFOOTBALL) May 16, 2019
On the theme of partnerships JJ Bull of The Telegraph did a piece in 2016 entitled:-
“How Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are taking Arsenal back to the days of Henry and Bergkamp”
Here Bull makes a case for the partnership,
“For Dennis Bergkamp’s style of play, read Mesut Ozil. Ozil doesn’t score as many but he is Arsenal’s chief creator of goal-scoring chances and their attacking playmaker.”
“Sanchez is wide left, Ozil is in the central play-maker position and links the move with Granit Xhaka, who threads in Walcott wide on the right.”
“Sanchez runs into a central striking position from wide left, Ozil drops back to space between defence and midfield and Walcott crosses into the box, when he could also shoot and have a decent chance of scoring.”
This is something that was also recognised at the time by The Mirror who reported,
“The duo have either scored or assisted 102 of the club’s 191 goals in the period they’ve been playing together.”
The couples contracts were running down and the paper added that the pair scored –
“53.4% of Arsenal’s goals, and shows the scale of the job Arsene Wenger (or whoever might come in to replace him) would have to find two top class signings to fill their boots”
In 2014, the Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton had an alternative opinion of the German and ran with the headline,
“Lost and lazy Ozil might have cost Arsenal £42.5m but he isn’t worth two-bob… and he’s nicking a living”
“The exuberance has gone, deserting him at a time when his team-mates are looking to the former Real Madrid midfielder for inspiration.”
Remember this was written in 2014 but could have been written at any point during the 2018-19 season but by way of balance
Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez were an unstoppable duo. Defenders didn’t have an answer for them. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/LKaRmhaIMH
— Aubazettes (@Aubazettes) May 25, 2019
Whilst on the plus side, the much respected Amy Lawrence of The Observer wrote an article in 2015 , entitled:-
“Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil combine to develop Arsenal’s evolution”
During a period where Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were establishing a decent partnership for the gunners.
“ As far as Wenger is concerned, the evolution of his team has taken a positive turn with the connection that has grown recently between Sánchez and Özil. It has been a key component of Arsenal’s recent sequence of nine Premier League wins and a run to the FA cup final.”
Now I’m not saying that the Sanchez departure is the reason for the demise of both players as world class talents but aspects of this blog indicate that Ozil and Sanchez can’t operate in the same way without the other and Sanchez is at a similar disadvantage having only scored three goals in the Premier league since his move in 2018.