Arsenal continue to pay Mesut Ozil the highest wages on the team, but is it time to face the truth that we’ve kind of always known about him?
Get ready for that standard preamble anytime I criticize Mesut Ozil, just so his fanboys don’t mutiny against me: I understand that Arsenal are blessed by the presence of Ozil. He is immensely talented and world class and, when he is on his game, there are few players better than him.
Okay, moving on, Ian Wright has a point about the problems with continuing to pay Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan what they are, and it simply highlights a truth that I think we’ve always known, even if we were blindly optimistic.
That truth being that Ozil is not an Emery player. He is the token Arsene Wenger player, but pretty close to the antithesis of Emery players. An Emery player is like Aaron Ramsey, or Matteo Guendouzi, who press for the entire 90 minutes, take accountability for their own mistakes, and are always willing to innovate.
Mesut Ozil has been shaping up in his past two matches – which goes back to Wolverhampton and Liverpool. He looked like a different player, as he was playing hard, tough and effort-driven football, unlike he ever has before.
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That was charming, and I really admire Ozil’s openness to do that, to make his presence felt.
But the question I never asked was, “Does Ozil even want to play like that?” And I think the answer to that question is probably that he doesn’t. Why would he? He’s 30 years old, he’s played his entire life in one particular fashion, and now, with a new contract to his name, he is being asked to do things he has never wanted to do.
The fact that he was able to do it for even two matches is pretty inspiring, but again, the fact of the matter is that the system probably isn’t suiting what Ozil wants. Maybe Emery made him captain to try to inspire something inside of him, maybe some deep-seated desire to fit in here, and maybe it is all still a work in progress.
But as the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 develop, Ozil’s relevance continues to hit snags. There are better options, and that is something we have to remember.
It’s a conundrum. It really is. You never want to count out Mesut Ozil, but I think Ian Wright has hit on the truth.