A guest post this morning; thanks to Matty for once more stepping into the breach.
Mesut Őzil’s injury dealt another blow to Arsène Wenger’s plans for the season, ruling the midfielder out until the New Year. It’s another one to put on the curse which has laid siege to the club since the move to The Emirates. With Arteta, Ramsey, Sanogo, Giroud and Debuchy all on the physio’s treatment table, Özil will be in good company as the evenings draw in. Add into that mix, Tomas Rosicky and its becoming a formidable five-a-side squad.
For most, Őzil’s is an injury that brings a tear to the eye. Others are relieved, believing the German’s form to be inconsistent enough to warrant a place on the bench. For Arsène, it’s another injury to explain away, something he is at a loss – or reluctant – to do.
There is a glimmer of hope. Theo Walcott set to make his return after a nine-month absence against Hull on October 18. The question is, will Theo fill the Mesut Őzil shaped hole in this Arsenal team?
Will Theo Walcott fill the Void?
Arsenal were outsiders for the title before Ozil’s injury but now considered by Betfair to just about on course to defend their fourth-placed trophy. The continuing struggle to beat the top four sides around them is one reason for a drifting price for the main prize – the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea provided further evidence of that – but it’s fair to say that injury problems aren’t helping the cause either.
Coming back after a nine-month lay-off is always difficult, especially in the first few weeks, as Walcott will need to sharpen up his fitness, but once the 25 year-old England player is up and running, will we need to worry about the absence of Őzil? Of course to some degree, you will always miss a player of that quality but the squad system offers opportunities to others to come in and make the difference.
You can draw parallels between Walcott and Őzil. Both are 25 years old, they have had more than their fair share of injury troubles at Arsenal but, more importantly, both players have the guile, talent and quality to win matches on their own. That’s an indisputable fact even if you sense that we have yet to see the best of the German international during his time at the Emirates.
Walcott was in the form of his life before being struck down with injury against Spurs in January this year. He had notched five goals in 13 league games, even scoring his first headed goal in a 3-1 win over West Ham. It picked up where he left off in 2012-13, his return of 14 in 32 Premier League matches was decent enough for someone who is essentially an inside-forward / winger. Despite Walcott’s own ambitions, the signing of Danny Welbeck looks to have marginalized the chances of him playing a central striking role but the prospect of Welbeck linking up with Walcott is salivating. It will also ease the blow of losing Őzil to injury.
Will Mesut Ozil really be missed?
Őzil’s critics have had their knives sharpened for a while now, not quite as vituperative as claiming he is “nicking a living” but not far off. he’s been but anyone who doubts the former Real Madrid midfielder’s contribution to Arsene Wenger’s side is massively wide of the mark.
Ozil started the season in sluggish fashion to be honest –some kind of emotional and physical hangover from winning the World Cup was always on the cards – but a match winning performance with a goal and assist at Villa Park last month ignited his season. He stood out in the 4-1 demolition of Galatasaray and has an overall pass completion of 89.5% this season before injury struck.
If anything, Ozil has been the victim of his own success at Arsenal and our expectations. The latter he can do little about and it’s no surprise that they increase every time a performance meets them. Meanwhile, his creative influence has meant Arsène has played him perhaps more than he should have. That and the paucity of performances…
At Real Madrid Ozil played on average 71 minutes per game, but at Arsenal he has played on average 83 minutes per game. It’s bound to have an effect on his performances in the long term, especially when trying to adapt to the rigours of English football. Ozil rarely played the full 90 minutes at the Bernabeu; he is the kind of player who gets the damage done in the first 65/70 minutes before his influence wanes, but his quality and importance for Arsenal should never be underestimated.
Walcott’s imminent return dovetails perfectly with the absence of the German playmaker but until Theo is fully fit, the expectations and pressure to perform will rest on the shoulders of Sanchez, Wilshere and Welbeck. The upcoming fixture list looks relatively kind and gives Theo a great opportunity to ease himself back into top form. Hull, Sunderland, Burnley and a double header with Anderlecht in the Champions League represent winnable fixtures for an injury-ravaged side and a squad shorn of its’ goalscoring talents.
Other players need to respond positively as well but looking at the squad at the moment, it feels like Theo is the best hope to fill the creative void.
Thanks Matty; ’til Tomorrow.