Mesut Ozil Can Be Masterful Arsenal Decoy Against Manchester City


Manchester City may be putting all of their defensive eggs into the ‘shutting down Ozil’ basket. How perfectly can Arsenal exploit this?

Doing a bit of reading, I stumbled upon the official Manchester City website with the headline “Stop Ozil, Stop Arsenal?”. It got me thinking. A few weeks back I made mention of how other teams may start to key off on the dominance that Mesut Ozil is putting forth and overcompensate. Back then, it was a scary thought because it may have slowed Arsenal considerably. But I had also made the point that when Aaron Ramsey came back he could steal the spotlight from Ozil. That way, with Ramsey announcing himself as the focal point, the importance of stopping Ozil would fade a bit.

Related: Why Ozil Needs Ramsey

But if the Manchester City website is promoting the idea that stopping Arsenal may be as easy as stopping Mesut Ozil (which, by the way, is not easy), then maybe it can be used to Arsenal’s advantage.

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Mesut Ozil has been the focal point of Arsenal’s attack recently, granted. But you could argue that in the past three matches, Aaron Ramsey has been taking the helm. Ramsey has been involved in 50% of Arsenal’s goals in the past three games. Add to that significantly more touches from the Welshman as well as a better passing percentage and it is pretty clear who Arsenal has been using to lead the charge (stats via WhoScored).

While Mesut Ozil has still been a key to the success of the club, he has been far less demonstrative than Ramsey. And that is when Ozil is at his best, when letting other people steal the show and when letting himself drift in to the background.

Manchester City may be trying to snuff out that idea by focusing on Ozil, even while he is trying to fade to the background, but that still would do Arsenal a massive favor. It would give every other offensive tool on Arsenal’s attack more space to maneuver. Mesut Ozil finds that space. And do not for a second try to tell me that there is one person on City that can shut down the German maestro. They will need more than a simple man-marking the fluster Ozil.

If they opt for two guys, even better, but that would be reckless.

Next: 5 Things On Arsene Wenger's Mind

The point is that if Arsenal can play at Ozil leading the attack, the space that could spring for runners like Ramsey and Walcott could be deadly.

Of course, maybe City is using a decoy to decoy our decoy. That would be confusing.