Mesut Özil: In Or Out Tomorrow?

The quickest thing in football isn’t the latest shiny £60m forward, it’s the obituary for a playing career. We’ve seen it the past, present and nothing makes me think that the future will be any different. Favourite players suffer them whilst they dog other players whole careers. It doesn’t matter if you cost £4 or £42m; the football obituary is penned, it’s updated as the season’s pass.

Mesut Özil is the latest Arsenal player to read his. It’s everywhere, from criticising his engagement with the rest of the squad, their friends and families, to his performances on the pitch. And the latter is the only thing that matters, if we’re honest. The club’s record signing is always the one that journalists want to fail. Not, for the most part, through vituperation but knowing what is going to make good copy. And that’s good in the revenues sense, not through what’s written. By the same token, a player with a hefty price tag doing well is good copy in that sense.

But Özil, he’s a special case. His gravestone will carry a very simple recollection of his life: “Born 1988, Nicked a living in between, Died…”

The sensationalist claims are out in force again, picking up on what we’ve known for a while: his performances for a couple of weeks have been sub-par. It’s come to a head this week, (a) because Arsène commented about the subject at the weekend, and, (b) we play Bayern tomorrow. The Prodigal Son returning is always the focus of attention on these occasions, particularly one who has been voted the national team’s Player of the Year five times in the past six seasons.

He must be doing something right.

Mesut Özil’s Club Performances Are All That Matter

And that’s quite right. Germany is the icing on the cake; Arsenal is the bread and butter. Recently, it’s been thin bread and margarine which is past its sell-by date. Graded as if they were school reports, his performances would get no more than a D in my view, with a teacher’s comments of “Can do considerably better”. The problem on these occasions is that a player of Özil’s calibre and cost quickly becomes a litmus test for the team. His sub-par games mask the overall deficiencies.

You expect a player of that quality to drag others out of their fug but it’s all too easily the case that they find themselves dragged down as well. Any player tagged as “mercurial” has that mentality; we’ve seen it in the past on plenty of occasions, we’ll see it in the future.

When the manager comments on the situation, it’s serious,

“Maybe he will find confidence back as well, because he misses chances. He has chances and he misses the chances that don’t look not feasible for him.

“I felt he did not feel confident against Hull. It’s always a problem because you think he can deliver something special but it’s true that technically he missed things that he is not used to.”

The weight of expectation can be a millstone; at that point, the manager has the decision to make about the next match. With Özil, there’s no simple solution to the problem. We know from experience that he is more likely to be ineffective in a big match away from the Emirates than rule the roost. There’s more probability of him being marginalised than owning the pitch, forcing the opposition to change their thinking about his inclusion or exclusion.

Dare Arsène Leave Özil Out Of Tomorrow’s Starting XI?

That’s the only question which matters this week. Bayern may think it a good thing if he does, but also be more concerned. Sacrificing the German international at kick-off must mean a hard-working midfield triumvirate, not shifting Alex Iwobi into the middle to replace him. Put Xhaka, Ox and Elneny as a trio with Walcott and Welbeck on either side of Alexis. Three quick forwards who carry a goal threat, with Ox filling the Cazorla role.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the unlikeliest candidate for Santi’s replacement; previously scratching around for a game in any position, he’s put in a couple of good performances in the centre which merit a longer-term experiment domestically. In Europe, it’s a risk but we’ve struggled with our staid 4-2-3-1 against the continents élite so why not try something different. Mind you, the second fastest thing in football is the promise of a glittering career…

The question Arsène must answer is whether he is brave enough to make that change, to throw Bayern a curve-ball. Success depends on a rock solid defence but that’s no different with or without a change in formation. And success is relative; a 2 – 1 defeat isn’t a bad result, it’s a good one. I’m sure the manager’s outlook on the away goals rule will be more positive if we benefit from it.

163 thoughts on “Mesut Özil: In Or Out Tomorrow?

  1. For whatever its worth. The 4 assists that Ozil has recorded in league games this season are a header by Mustafi on a corner vs Burnley, a header by Giroud on corner against Sunderland and a header by Giroud from open play against West Brom. The only other assist was a ball he rolled the ball to Ox about 25 yards from goal and Ox took a touch and made a 20 shot from outside the box in the 5-1 win against West Ham. Hard to imagine that not one assist went to Alexis or Walcott when both were in such good form. Perhaps the best way to get the best from Ozil is to have Giroud at CF so he can head in a cross or a corner kick.

  2. I have been banging on for Arsene to buy Draxler for the better part of 4 years and he os flourishing at PSG and they are putting it to Barca.

  3. C:
    I have been banging on for Arsene to buy Draxler for the better part of 4 years and he os flourishing at PSG and they are putting it to Barca.

    Vieira moved to Arsenal before Wenger did… I don’t want to sound ominous, but I wouldn’t blame Arsène if he is having second thoughts about the whole Arsenal community deserving him. Or not.

  4. FinnishHit,

    I see where you are going with that, but it’s a bit of a leap. Paddy joined Arsenal in the summer AW joined. Wenger was effectively signed up and was targeting players.
    I’m not convinced he would be getting another club to sign players half a season before his contract is up so that he has them in his team if he moves. Also doesn’t sound like Wenger to be focused on anything other than the team he is in charge of.

  5. Can I just say, Emery buying Draxler was a stroke of genius because it allowed Matuidi to go back in midfield. Before anybody starts talking about we should do the same, sure Xhaka can do what Rabiot does for them but we don’t have a Veratti and Matuidi is a complete midfielder that can play any position in midfield.

  6. FinnishHit,

    Not sure ominous is the word I’d use.

    Seriously though, of all the people in the world that are unappreciated and hard done by I doubt that Arsene would figure too high on the list.

    If Arsene decides it’s not for him then I wish him well. Arsenal will survive just as they have for the last one hundred and thirty-one years.

  7. Wavey,

    And if he were doing that it would be grounds to sack him now. I’m not saying that as I want him gone right now (I can wait until the summer) but, because it would be wrong for any manager to be lining up players for a new club that far ahead and I would want them sacked.

  8. FinnishHit: Vieira moved to Arsenal before Wenger did… I don’t want to sound ominous, but I wouldn’t blame Arsène if he is having second thoughts about the whole Arsenal community deserving him. Or not.

    TBF – you wouldn’t blame Arsene if he fucked your wife whilst pouring sugar in your petrol tank. 😉

  9. C:

    Draxler certainly looking good today but its a bit early to make the claim that he would have been a difference maker for us. Ox has been on the cusp of greatness for years and has scored some nice goals but never has become a scorer. Draxler’s scoring record was quite frankly poor in Germany and he needs to score a lot more regularly to be an effective forward over the long term in the PL. Time will tell how it works out. If he turns out to be a mid teens scorer then I will admit that I was wrong. However, if we are going to spend that sort of money for a forward I think we need to find someone with a more proven scoring record.


    I can’t imagine Arsene would ever move to a new club. He is comfortable with the situation he has been able to build for himself here and he could never replicate anything close to that at PSG or any other big team.

  10. Di Maria makes it 3-0 and Barca looked absolutely SHOCKED. Emery was brought in for his brilliance in Europe(I would say he is one of the best managers when it comes to Europe bar NONE) and they are doing exactly that.

  11. Of course I don’t believe for one second that Wenger is doing anything for PSG right now!

    But the Qatari’s have a lot of money, so it wouldn’t harm them one bit if they bought more of the players that Wenger rates, if that would help the PSG owners get the manager they are often claimed to want.

    Wenger would at last have a squad to realistically fight for the league title, and even UCL glory.

    And Paris is a lot nicer than London anyway.

  12. Missed the third goal. If Barcelona can’t find a goal tonight I think they will have too much to do in the second leg. Even for them.

  13. Bill,

    You are completely wrong on Draxler my friend. Yes he wasn’t scoring in Germany(part injury part his teams weren’t that good) but he was brilliant especially in Europe. The lad has everything you want in a winger and yoy simply can’t compare him to Ox as he has proven himself time and time again. He has also already made an impact and if you think time will tell, well you keep waiting then because he is better than all of our wingers not named Sanchez.

  14. Counting the goal in todays game between Germany and France so far this season Draxler has 2 goals and 2 assists in 19 games. Ox and even Iwobe are doing better then that.

  15. Immense tackling from PSG on the edge of their own box. It looked like Barcelona had finally broken through, but the ball was taken off Messi’s boot just as he was about to play the pass.

  16. C

    You are correct that we don’t have a lot of really standout players who are wingers other then Alexis. However, Draxler will have to get a lot better in front of goal before he could be the difference maker we need. Walcott showed just how valuable a winger who scores can be to us during his early season run and Draxler is no where near being able to do anything close to that, at least not yet.

    What we really need long term is a CF who can score with his feet and head and is a mid 20’s league scorer and then we can move Alexis to the wing. IMO.

  17. Jonny: TBF – you wouldn’t blame Arsene if he fucked your wife whilst pouring sugar in your petrol tank.

    Do you want to say that to my wife face to face? I already got your address.

    Or you can apologise.

  18. ESPN is up to date and according to their website he has scored 1 league goal in 5 league games for PSG and none for Wolfsburg in 12 league games.

    The other 3 he scored for PSG were all in the France cup. In those 2 games his team won by a composite 11-0. Hard to make a lot from someone scoring in games like that.

  19. Bill,

    Who cares when he scored he scored goals and is such a fantastic player. He scored a goal in the CL against Barca which makes it 5 in 9, also at Wolfsburg he was dropped because of a falling out with management and the manager. He is a difference maker on the flanks and in attack which we obviously need. He will continue to develop for that is certain.

    I would take Draxler 4 years ago and even now.

  20. Emery with a brilliant game plan, sit on Busquets and Inesta to cut off supply to their forwards, sound familiar, well clubs stand on Ozil and press our pivots and cut off supply.

  21. andy1886:

    Makes you wonder why they would want Arsene anywhere near PSG…can’t see Emery having him as his DoF.

    Andy, it seems many here don’t have much of an idea how managers are rated by the professionals and the owners. It’s because of fandom bias, the same reason why social media blokes and pub managers are sacking this and that of their “own” on a weekly basis.

    I guess Emery is a very good coach, but is he more a cup coach than a league coach? Sevilla did not do very well in La Liga during his time, but fared very well in the Europa League. PSG are having a hard time in Ligue 1, but tonight against Barca…

  22. Well, even AC Milan couldn’t bottle a four-nil lead at this stage against the Arsenal in 2012… If PSG score one at the Camp Nou, Barca will need six.

  23. FinnishHit,

    Mate, Sevilla did okay in La Liga given they barely spent money and year on end their best players were poached time and time again. Nobody is doubting Arsene is a good manager, he has grown stale at Arsenal and so has the club because of that.

    PSG aren’t top of the League yet because the other clubs are playing better, Bayern are just now top of the League but are no way in the free and clear. Emery was brought in the CL and Europe and he is doing just that. PSG will win Ligue Un, no doubt about that. Say what you want but Emery is doing what he does and now has a better squad to do the double with and bringing in Draxler and allowing Matuidi back in the middle is a manager seeing a move and making it and it now paying off.

    I mean Leicester won the PL last season and we weren’t close after Christmas.

  24. C,

    Hello C AW has obviously not been listening to you re Draxler. He should also sign Matuidi. Play him alongside Xhaka and El Neny or Santi.

    Tomorrow night against Bayern we should play 3 in midfield. I Would play 3 of Xhaka El Neny and The Ox. Yes the Ox. I am not his biggest fan but he has come good lately.

    I would drop Iwobi and play a front 3 of Ozil Alex and Welbeck.

    With the 3 in the middle we can ‘try’ to have more control. Xhaka has the ability to pass through the lines. Play him centrally and El Neny and The Ox either side.

    No Le Coq.

  25. FinnishHit,

    I expect that C’s point is more relevant. PSG are in second place three points off the lead. Better placed than Arsenal, and be honest, Arsene’s league record over the last decade would be unacceptable to PSG’s owners.

    Not that I expect he’d be in the manager’s seat, more likely as DoF although he himself has said that he wouldn’t play under a DoF. Let’s face it, Emery was hired to take PSG further in the CL, hardly something that that you would hire Arsene for on his record either.

    It’s simply the reality, if you were unbiased then I can’t see how you could make a case for Arsene joining them.

  26. C:

    You have always rated Draxler very highly. I have always thought if we were going to spend that much on a forward he should be goal scorer. We already have Welbeck and Ox and Joel Campbell before them who can don’t score enough. What we really need is someone who can score like Walcott when he is on form but also adds something to the team when he does not score.

  27. Ras,

    Arsene should listen to me, doesn’t he know I’m a master scout!

    Yup that is the line-up I put out the 2nd time. Tell Ozil/Sanchez/Welbeck or Theo to stand on the half way line and attack relentessly.

  28. Bill,

    Draxler is better than Welbeck, Ox, Iwobi and Theo and he has it ALL in his locker. He will continue to develop and the biggest thing is that in the big matches against the best he has been one of the best players on the pitch even when he played Madrid(he was literally unplayable). 35m for a 24 year old that has it all and continues to develop and become of better goal threat, sorry, sign that lad up. Everybody wants more players that can make a difference, well he has and will continue to do so.

    Yes we need another goal scorer but building quality depth is just as important. Think they brought on Lucas Moura who is also better and more impactful then everybody in our attacking front 3 not named Sanchez(Ozil is a #10 so I don’t count him).

  29. Aubameyang had a night to forget, he should have had 4 but missed 3 clear chances and missed another penalty (missed something like his last 4 of 5) and I would still pay 60m for him.

  30. can arsene Wenger and the fragile arsenal players see what work rate and tenacity can do in a football match…who would have predicted Barcelona being torn to shreds by PSG? what a match

  31. C,

    “they [Seville] barely spent money and year on end their best players were poached time and time again”

    I absolutely agree, and it sounds so similar to a big part of Wenger’s second decade… And yes, Barca and Real are there what Chelsea, Man City and Man United have been in England.

    Yes, undoubtedly PSG should win the Ligue.

    However, thinking of Leicester’s miracle as a failure of Wenger’s, and only his, is such a ridiculous brain fa*t by the AWO blame gamer’s (although I’m not surprised). The extent of the miracle is highlighted by how badly/realistically Leicester City are doing this year. No one should take anything away from them – let it give hope to each and every club.

    Now people are calling for Ranieri’s head. Sigh. And saying that Mahrez and Vardy are not very good. Sigh.

  32. C,

    Arsenal as you know have been linked with Draxler dozens of times but like so many others its either paper talk or fans wishful thinking we spent £70 million on Mustafi and Granite not sure they are value for money, yet at least, while players who could make a difference ala, Kante, Mhkitaryan Draxler go elsewhere because we are not even in race

  33. FinnishHit,

    The problem with that is that Arsene did spend money, just on youth (see Theo, Ox, Chambers) and instead of buying players of quality he spent on good players that were stop gaps instead of a couple of quality players mixing in the team with the rest IMHO. Please don’t put me in the AWO group, I have plenty of times said I have no qualms with Arsene staying but he needs to adapt or simply complete his team. Arsene technically is the only manager that I have really known as I just turned 30 (yes I started following a couple years before he came but carried naturally didn’t fully understand) and I have a great respect for Arsene and ALL that he has done but my allegiance is to Arsenal not the managers, players or management.

    The other problem with you argument is that Arsenal are worlds wealthier than Sevilla. You also have to remember that the difference between us and Sevilla is that Arsenal signed Cesc to a new deal (and most certainly could have offered Nasri, Sagna, RvP and the other key parts whereas Sevilla simply can’t match) so they could have told Barca to fuck off and could have continued to build the squad but didn’t.

    Leicester, their problem is that players like Mahrez, Vardy, Drinkwater,and the rest aren’t playing with the same desire and fight they did last season; yes Mahrez and Vardy are playing like shit.

    At the end of the day, I could give a flying fuck who is manager as long as whoever it is wants the best for Arsenal and is willing to at times do what is necessary to take Arsenal back to the top of the PL and not falling off year after year.

  34. buckagh,

    I don’t and didn’t ever think that the Draxler stuff was paper talk as he himself has said on numerous occasions that Arsene personally has been in contact and upon his move to PSG said that Arsenal was in contact but a deal was never done. I would have loved to have Draxler and think that with his power, pace, quickness, quick feet, close control and overall futbol IQ he would have flourished with Sanchez and Ozil. I know he hasn’t been consistent, in no large part to having a couple injuries and then fallouts with management over upgrading the team, he is only 24 years old and against the likes of Bayern, Madrid, Barca, Dortmund (when they were bossing with Klopp’s revolution) and other top clubs both home and away he was by far one of the best on the pitch.

  35. Ospina in goal tomorrow night, is too risky Czech is not in the best of form admittedly, but Ospina is just an alright keeper, too small, bad decision making, not the best technique, but of course Arsene will stick with his personal preferences regardless

  36. FinnishHit

    Arsene has had more then enough time and spent plenty of money in this decade and he has not been able to gain any improvement in our results

    Our points totals in this decade

    75, 68, 70 73, 79, 75, 71, on pace for 75 this season. We have dropped out of the CL in the round of 16 every season in this decade.

    Despite all of the time and money he has spent there is no real progress.

    Last season all of the big money teams totally imploded at the same time. Leicester had lowest point total of any league winner in the Emirates era and probably in this century. They might well have lost their nerve if we had put them under any pressure but the best we could do was to go down without a fight and finish 10 points behind them.

  37. C,

    if that’s the case why haven’t we heard, “well I tried to buy him but its very difficult you know” he may well have spoke to the player, but I Dont believe he ever spoke to his club

  38. Buckagh

    You would think anyone who has been following Arsenal now for the last 10 years would have learned their lesson. Trying to predict the course of a promising youth player like Draxler is almost impossible no matter how talented they might be. The notion that he would have improved and developed more quickly by playing for Arsene and playing with our group of players is a huge leap of faith and the vast majority of evidence argues that it would most likely not have worked the way we hoped.

  39. C,

    ‘Emery with a brilliant game plan, sit on Busquets and Inesta to cut off supply to their forwards, sound familiar, well clubs stand on Ozil and press our pivots and cut off supply.’

    Yes you’re right. I watching Iniesta and he was running the game for the first 10 minutes and I saw him in about 10 yards of space and he hit a 50 yard pass into the penalty box and set up a great chance at all even.

    Then he was marked out of the rest of the game. Every time he got the ball there was a swarm of PSG players pressurising him and he had no space to make great passes and just laid it off till he was substituted. Messi was dropping deep to help him and even together they could not get the ball up field to Nemar and Suerez.

    I think the defence were mainly to blame for the size of the defeat however. They were makeshift and one of the centre backs, Umtiti, was pretty bad although a good ball player and was at fault for at least two of the goals.

  40. Bill,

    Bill I’m not solely talking about Draxler, there are many players that we are linked with constantly but its just talk or click bait or Arsene saying he tried to buy them eg Kante, Mkhitaryan and many others in past seasons, buying any player is a gamble buy that’s the game, BTW Draxler moved in the January window and is not a promising youth player he is 24

  41. Bill,

    I’m hoping that’s a rhetorical question but just to appease you before I sign off until tomorrow:

    De Bruyne
    De gea
    I would continue but we can chat tomorrow.

  42. I come way late to the blog but wanted my 10 cents worth.

    Ozil is my favorite player but he needs a highly functioning team/players around him. This is not it.

    Further, as soon as Sanchez and Ozil started playing this interchangeable role this season (when people kept thinking we had stumbled into the promised land) I noted results from game to game varied. At times it looked fluid and creative and at other times a miss.

    As the season has become more and more directionless so has Ozil whilst Sanchez has reverted to ball hog (something quite evident in him from the get go).

    At this point, I feel Ozil has given up on the present Arsenal.

    As for dropping him tonight – why not?

    If we had any bloody sense, we should (anyone with a brain and history in mind) play the away fixture hell bent on not conceding, end of story. That we cannot go out determined and focused in such fixtures to correct our recent history is an indication of the inability to rise above our weaker self.

    Singular mission. Come away with a scoreless draw (nick a goal awesome!) and do them at the Emirates. Put the strongest most defensive team out and hustle for every ball.

    As for the whole PSG/Wenger nonsense…well, it is so much crap.

    I’ll keep repeating myself as nauseum but if Wenger went elsewhere the team would flounder so quickly he’d be completely exposed for what he is.

    If he did move, the dying embers at Arsenal would look like the golden years and he’d sign off his career at a lower point than anyone could imagine.

  43. C,

    I don’t think you’re AWOut any more than I am AWForever. And you offer alternatives with tactics, general knowledge unlike many others.

    But Arsenal 2005 to August 2013 when we got Özil at the end of a surplus sale, were much like Sevilla in comparison to the big players. Except we were never near bankruptcy, thank… well, you-know-who.

    The Leicester debate as in the “Arsenal failed” perspective is still beyond my comprehension and seems to me simply put as fanbase arrogance. I’m not sure if it has been as pathetic at Spurs, ManUnited, ManCity, Liverpool or Chelsea–but if it has, then at least it doesn’t make the Arsenal negativists more stupid than them.

    So, there is an upside everywhere, you just have to dig deep enough! 🙂

  44. Nah, not apologising Finnish – it was quite clearly a joke.

    It was designed to illustrate the extent to which you would back our beleaguered manager. He can practically do no wrong… 🙂

  45. FinnishHit,

    To get some perspective look at the consequences for the managers at the clubs you mention. Chelsea, manager sacked months after winning the title, United, manager sacked – not saved by winning the cup unlike AW previously, City, manager replaced despite winning the title two seasons before. Koop had only been at Liverpool for less than a season and as for Spurs third for them is success (and clearly they are not a big club anyway).

  46. Just to add to Finnish’s misery, nobody thinks of “of Leicester’s miracle as a failure of Wenger’s, and only his”; the only people who use this line are those who are trying to deflect attention away from Wenger’s inability to get his team to take advantage of the other big clubs failures.

  47. Andy1886,

    As you know, all this depends on perception. We can ask if the clubs really have made the right decisions. Even Chelsea had arguably the best team two years ago when they won, and not much has changed. Would LVG be worse than Mou? What if Simeone had taken over at Liverpool. Etc.

    There are no facts, just alternate tru… Tru… viewpoints.

  48. YW:
    nobody thinks of “of Leicester’s miracle as a failure of Wenger’s, and only his”; the only people who use this line are those who are trying to deflect attention away from Wenger’s inability to get his team to take advantage of the other big clubs failures.

    I don’t see the logic in that. None of the big clubs failed miserably last year! (Mourinho did, though.) It was a very tight league (and of the traditional clubs Arsenal was on top, by the way). It is/was just as ridiculous for other clubs’ fans to blame their teams “failure”. I’m just highlighting the point for my miserable lot.

  49. Finnish,

    I don’t care about other big clubs. I care about Arsenal. If they fail, excellent. We failed and that’s on Arsene, no-one else. Just because others failed doesn’t let him off the hook to anyone except those trying to defend him.

    Your logic skewed. You’re saying that because others failed, it’s alright for Arsene to do the same.

  50. YW,

    (Maestro, good to keep this out of today’s Big Game excitement.)

    But my logic continues to be that the other big clubs did not fail, and, therefore, neither did Arsène/Arsenal.

    I’m quite certain that there are hordes of fans of the other big clubs, wondering how the heck they missed out on the 2015/2016 league title “when it was there just for taking”.

    No it wasn’t. And they didn’t fail, even that lot. Anyone thinking like that is doing a huge disrespect for Leicester, and football/sports in general as a source of joy in life.

    That’s what I’m preaching. Instead of self-pitiful navel-gazing and seeing Arsène-shaped fluff there.

    (Do you see the logic now, even if you disagree?)

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