Following Chelsea’s fabulous rear-guard display at The Emirates last weekend, they all but secured the league title. In doing so they condemned their opponents to yet another season without adding to their Premier League crowns.
Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was open in his criticism of his former team. Pinpointing that they need to sign several world class players in order to truly compete; the Frenchman also singled out Mesut Ozil for criticism. Was he right to pick out the German international?
Since his reported £42m transfer from Real Madrid, criticizing Ozil has been one of the more fashionable statements for any member of the media to make. Although few would argue he has made the impact that many wished for, he has been nowhere near the level many would have people believe.
Going back to his debut, the then 24 year old was outstanding, in a mesmerising display he had a hand in all three goals and Arsenal looked as if they had pulled off one of the great transfer coups of the Premier League era. Through a combination of injuries and adapting to the robustness of the English game, Ozil has shown only moments of the sheer brilliance he is capable of. So often a figure of frustration for Gunners, so brilliant but so fleeting; but in those fleeting moments of majesty he has brought an air of magic to North London.
Henry pointed out the fact that that in eight appearances against top four teams, he has managed only two goals and has yet to create a goal for his team mates. In a period where Arsenal seem to be finally overcoming their inferiority complex of the fellow big hitters, the German’s aura has been pivotal.
Since the turn of the year he has arguably enjoyed his most consistent run of form in a red shirt and has at times even overshadowed the mesmeric Sanchez. His fellow midfielder Cazorla appears to get plaudits every passing week, whereas Ozil’s influence appears to be overlooked. His game is about so much more than statistics, he drags opposition out of shape with his fleet of foot; he makes players around him better ones.
Statistics that Henry was so willing to dish out can be turned in any way; he has managed only 41 Premier League appearances and has scored nine goals and created 12 in those. Having a hand in 21 goals in 41 games is certainly not a bad start to his Premier League career.
In a game where so few Arsenal players struggled to have an impact, Ozil is an easy scapegoat, he is not one to run around like a headless chicken and grab a game by the scruff of the neck. But what he does offer is utter class, a presence that few players in world football possess.
Many have pinpointed the impact Fabregas has had at Chelsea this term but he is a man whose footballing development has been embedded in England; Ozil is still finding his way and the signs are that he is finally beginning to deliver on his undoubted talent.
For those that doubt that the former Galactico’s ability to deal with a big game, they should just re-watch his man of the match display in last year’s World Cup final from last year.