Spurs Review: Cup Defeat Raises Özil Questions

Arsenal 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal crashed out of the Carabao Cup with a defeat which raised more questions than giving answers. A strong line-up was outplayed by a Tottenham side which was more clinical in its finishing and better organised in its defending. The victory was as well-deserved as Arsenal’s three-weeks ago.

To cap it all, some moron threw a plastic bottle at the head of Dele Alli. You’re not big, you’re not clever, you’re just f***ing stupid. With the amount of cameras around, you’ll be found out and then what? Banned from the stadium and up before the beaks. Hire the same firm the Tottenham fan used; they somehow convinced magistrates he didn’t throw a banana in a racist attack. You’ll need that kind of legal mind on your side.

Unai Emery pointed to attacking efficiency – or the lack of it – as the root cause of the defeat. It was more fundamental than that: poor defending at key moments. The first goal stemmed from a flawed offside trap. Nacho Monreal tried to play Son offside but didn’t keep in line with the centre-backs.

The second was just dreadful. A long punt from the goalkeeper found Kane in too much time and space while Alli ran untracked from his own half. Given the time and space, Kane produced a great pass which eliminated the isolated Koscielny and Alli a good finish.

Being Arsenal, of course, that might have been the equaliser. On 11 minutes, Mkhitaryan found himself in the clear in the area but wasted the moment. Trying to beat the goalkeeper at the near post robbed himself of aiming at most of the goal. Not good enough by a long shot.

The Armenian used all his goalscoring luck for the week up at St. Mary’s, obviously.

Central Defensive Bypass

Ramsey, by contrast, found himself the victim of Gazzaniga’s good fortune. The Welshman’s shot struck the post then the goalkeeper’s head but flew wide. Just before half-time, was it a sign of the second-half onslaught to come?

Not really. Lacazette hit the post, Aubameyang fluked a cross onto the bar but overall, we huffed and puffed with not a lot of end product. We didn’t deserve to win but then again, when has football ever been about deserving victory. That notion is as, in the instance, the preserve of the vanquished as a mental justification for defeat.

Questions are asked about the team selection. Granit Xhaka isn’t the best left-back in the world but he’s even less effective as a centre-back. Injuries and Koscielny’s lack of fitness meant he played there in a back four. It was car-crash football; the night demanded a back three if Xhaka made up the numbers.

Indeed, with a back three, his presence would have been more valuable in midfield. Or play Jenkinson there with AMN in midfield? We had options and alternatives with Lichtsteiner on the bench. I’ll qualify that with the ‘it’s easy to be wise after the event’ proviso.

However, I’m struggling to think of positives from the performance. A less congested January and February? Avoiding a final hammering from Manchester City? Avoiding a semi-final battering from Chelsea? Everything which springs to mind sounds defeatist.

However, at least I don’t have to witter on about how the draw was rigged as City drew Burton; Craig Bellamy, that’s all I’m saying.

Unai was clear afterwards that we needed to be more clinical in our finishing:

We created chances in the first half to score, but today the efficiency was not good for us…We worked for 90 minutes and in our moments we didn’t take our chances.

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Mesut?

The elephant in the room is obviously Mesut Özil’s absence. Bournemouth were too physical for him and Tottenham too tactical. Unai is running out of excuses for his absences; next, the grass will be too long and then too short.

Emery is too discreet to answer the direct questions about the German’s future but following Özil’s dismal cameo at Southampton, his absence was no surprise.

The issue is that we’re losing Ramsey next summer, a player more productive and consistent than Özil and retaining others such as Mkhitaryan and Iwobi whose end-product is not as “efficient” as the Welshman.

It’s easy to leap to conclusions over Özil’s future and I am going to do just that. Quite simply, it’s not at Arsenal under Emery. It’s been a turbulent six months for Özil, I fully accept that. Maybe there is still some fall-out from the summer’s row over his relationship with Germany and Erdoğan, along with the racial under – and overtones which came with it.

I seem to recall Arsène saying Özil needed to feel the love but I guess right now he isn’t. But then his form isn’t creating the environment for him to receive the love.

Don’t get me wrong, I think he is wonderful footballer. In a team which is playing well, he is a joy to watch. When he is on top of his game, he can be unplayable. But those moments are not often enough, certainly not in Emery’s Arsenal.

If I’m honest, Özil is one of the players who is struggling to adapt to the new footballing philosophy. For that reason, I’d take the money Internazionale are rumoured to be ready to offer and cut our losses.

Where Do We Go From Here?

There is also an element of ruthlessness on Emery’s part. He’s still stung by Neymar’s preferential treatment at PSG, I’m sure. Mesut Özil isn’t getting the same at Arsenal, the Spaniard is making sure of that.

It’s speculation at this point but this is a scenario with which we’re very familiar. We’ve seen players ‘disappear’ immediately before they leave before and this is no different, by the looks of it.

We need to strengthen the squad so the question is whether Özil is the sacrificial lamb, bringing in much-needed fees as well as shaving £350k and more, off the weekly payroll?

’til Tomorrow.

19 thoughts on “Spurs Review: Cup Defeat Raises Özil Questions

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    I know it’s not fashionable, but I’m not too bothered by this loss. Yes it’s against Spurs…blah blah, but we have more important issues to tackle. Burnley on Saturday will be a grind it out game.

    The line up was half hearted last night and playing Koscielny is an open invite for an average player to propel themselves to the back pages of the Daily Scum. I hope he doesn’t play on Saturday.

    Ozil? What can I say that I haven’t said for the past 3 seasons? You can only polish a turd for as long as the participants are willing to carry on. Emery has clearly had enough.

  2. Stu says:

    Afternoon YW.

    Last night’s match was disappointing to say the least. The defence looked woeful. The midfield weak; where was the muscle, oh yeah in part playing in defence. While the attack was not on their game. Spuds looked sharper, more up for game and deservedly won. It happens; we have to get over it and move on, but it did highlight the weakness in the squad that need to be resolved over the next 2 or 3 windows, if we are to challenge for the PL.

    We need a new rock or two at the back. Oh to have a Keown or Adams in their prime there now. That has to be a must have ideally in January, but if not then definitely next summer.

    Others simply didn’t perform to their best last night. Doesn’t mean they are not good enough, as very few teams ever have a squad full of the very best. But AMN needed to find his other foot last night, Micky and Iwobi both need to find some consistency in their performances, and we have a number 10 position waiting for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck. If not Ozil or Ramsey, then someone else and that is going to cost.

  3. Bill says:

    Great review yogi

    A downturn after the 22 game unbeaten run was probably inevitable. We were “better then the sum of our parts” for those 22 games and over achieving above your baseline talent level is difficult to maintain for long periods. The little engine that could eventually runs out of steam. I think PEA scored on something like 10 shots on target in a row and that sort of statistical anomaly is completely unsustainable. Bottom line is we are better then we have looked the last 2 games but probably not as good as we looked during the unbeaten run. Hopefully our ultimate goal is to compete for the top of the table and our front office brain trust has some work to do and some money they need to spend to rebuild the squad that Arsene left behind.

  4. Wailesy says:

    I’m not too bothered either. At the risk of sounding defeatist we could do with a lighter playing schedule. Weakness at the back and a lack of creativity may force the club to go into this window with more impetus to shake up the squad and give us a better chance of sneaking a top 4 this term.
    Everyone says it’s going to take 2 to 3 windows to compete but if we’re not making top 4 it’s always going to be harder to get the players you’re after.

  5. Paulie Walnnuts says:

    The squad is probably too thin to cope with extra games anyway. Hopefully we’ll still have enough juice for Burnley but some lads are looking leggy already.

    Unfortunately Kos appears way undercooked for the top level. We may not see him at his best again after his injury & without that hard of pace he will struggle.

  6. Bill says:

    Regarding Ozil this season has been a continuation of the way he has been playing for most of the last 21/2-3 years so the idea that the issues he struggled with at the World Cup are somehow part of the reason for his lack of ability to influence the games is grasping for straws. For 2 1/2 seasons we have searched desperately for excuses to explain his long periods of invisibility. We no longer have Arsene and our finishers are improved and yet Mesut has certainly not improved and if anything he has been even less effective this season. He was not effective we he played for Germany. The reality is that the excuses we have been making for him were never valid and the “chances created” stat that suggested he was still creating is a completely rubbish stat. The fact that Lucas Perez was 2nd in the league in chances created in Spain last season tells you just how misleading that stat really is. I think the bottom line is Father Time has caught up with Ozil and the things that used to come easily for him are no longer happening. Unfortunately he is not the sort of player who has the mental energy to find other ways to influence the game when the magical moments he used to create no longer happen automatically

  7. Bill says:

    Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobe, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kos are all important and heavily used players on our team and I doubt that any of them would be playing significant minutes on other big teams in Europe.

    Jury is still out on Leno but he isn’t off to a great start and his arrow was certainly pointing down in the last couple seasons in Germany. I still am not a huge fan of Xhaka although he has not been the huge liability he was in the past. Lacazaette is good but probably not as good as we hoped. Guendouzi might have a good future but he certainly is not ready to be playing the number of minutes that he has.

    Bottom line is I think Emery deserves massive credit for keeping us in the hunt for 4th given the limitations of the squad he inherited. Imagine where we would be if Arsene was still the manager.

  8. YW says:

    > Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobe, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kos are all important and heavily used players on our team

    Well, Ozil isn’t, nor Kolasinac, Mustafi or Kos. Only injuries made the latter trio important while the former is increasingly less relevant. Iwobi tries but is hit and miss, ditto Mkhitaryan. Only Ramsey and Sokratis are important.

    With a fully fit squad, I wouldn’t expect any of them to be in the starting line-up.

    Leno; Holding, Kos, Sokatris; Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Monreal; Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Or put it another way:

    Leno; Holding, Vacancy, Sokratis; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Monreal; Lacazette, Aubameyang, Vacancy

  9. C says:


    I would throw Ramsey in that hit or miss too. One good game every 3 or 4 coupled with injuries.

  10. consolsbob says:

    It’s a bugger. Had lunch in a Dartmoor pub today, tough I know.

    The chef is an Arsenal diehard and he was really pissed off, rude to customers, the lot. Food was fine and the beer excellent.

    Like others though, I am not too bothered. Not really, just a little.

    Move them on, Unai. you know who I mean.

  11. Bill says:


    We have had Leno,Bellerin, Holding, Sokatris, Torreira, xhaka, Guendouzi for most of this season and it’s seems a bit difficult to postulate that those defensive players all have the quality needed to take us to the next level when we are currently on pace to concede more goals then any season since before George Graham. Something is not working

    PEA and Torrierra have been excellent and I think Lacazette has more to offer then he has shown but after that I think it gets much more dicey and we left hoping rather then feeling confident

  12. Thrillbo says:

    Hello all, thanks for the write up. Couldnt catch the match, not really surprised by result and not too bothered either. We dont have the depth to compete in all these cups. The one thing we all agree on I think, Unai is ruthless and doesnt take s**t. I’m happy to start forcing the issue now, rather then trying to integrate Ozil for this season, be all nice to him. Just sit the lad down. We have seen some really great effort and hustle so far this season and everyone needs to be onboard for this to work.

    If we hit top4 this season I think we are a little ahead of schedule honestly. New coach, system etc. We have already shown the improvement that we can show up and compete with the big boys with matches against ‘pool, manure, spuds. In past years we would have gotten embarrased in that stretch, this year we take 5 points!! Everyone in the league has acknowledged that the gunners are a different force now.

    This whole project just needs to keep gelling, and the players need to grow together with the coach. Fighting for top4 this year will be a good experience. Next year we will raise our expectations and expect to be in the top 4, not hanging around the outskirts fighting for a chance.

    Final words, on twitter and other social medias i’ve seen many people so happy to see Kos back in our lineup. Sure it’s nice for the guy to play after an injury , but this isnt arsenal rehab FC anymore. The fact Kos is out there (and getting shown up) exposes our depth at CB.

  13. buckagh says:

    Losing to Spuds is always disappointing, but not to bothered,
    Ozil, we should cut the losses ASAP,

  14. G4E says:

    Definitely our defense needs major overhaul.

    Losing Holding was terrible, and Koscielny the “worn-out warrior” should probably say Good Bye in the summer. Left back also needs work.

    On Ozil, I’m a big fan…..But, a more high energy and consistent player with half his talent can be more useful to Emery’s pressing game.

    Iowbi also is one of Wenger’s wonders that never seem to materialize. He was great in some games but now is just barely coasting.

    We need about 5 more players of Torreira’s mold in different positions of the field. It’s up to the Club to be ruthless in their dealings to achieve that including the departures.


    I hope we didn’t start a losing streak and we will get back to winning ways. Our defense shortage is also affecting our midfield choices, and even attacking options.

    What to do Emery, What to do?…..

  15. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Emery has, so far, acted quickly and got improvement in areas where the club has delayed for years. We are now seeing the limitations of his inheritance and I hope he will be assisted in keeping up the momentum in January. Why wait on getting the CB we seem to have needed forever? The attacking mid to replace the two clearly outgoing? I think anything else could probably wait. Why not get Ozil off the wage bill now and see if we can get a fee for Ramsey? They’re barely playing.

  16. Blue Yonder says:


    A plus is that we do have a brains trust now and it will be interesting to see what they come up with. If it were still Wenger at the helm and calling all the shots, things would look grim.

  17. Blue Yonder says:

    My plus from the game is that it’s one less competition to worry about now and any that keeps our rivals busy is a good thing. Not much of a takeaway but there it is.
    I don’t think we should write Kos off yet. He needs time and carefully-scheduled minutes and then we’ll see (neither of which he has at present.)

  18. Damon says:

    If we can move Ozil, would anyone think about putting a sensible contract in front of Rambo in the new year? I think I would

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