When Mesut Ozil joined Arsenal in the summer of 2013 supporters were excited and hopeful that the ex-Real Madrid man would give them that extra bit of quality that they needed to make their assault on the Premier League title. Unfortunately for the Gunners, the £42.5m German has struggled, apparently finding the intensive schedule and physicality associated with the league too much to cope with. So after two disappointing seasons can Ozil ever be the player Arsenal were hoping for?
Ozil had three successful seasons with Spanish giants Real Madrid winning La Liga in 2012 and last year in Brazil he was part of the German World Cup winning team. His successes in Spain and at international level just haven’t translated to his performances week in and week out for his current club and for some supporters it seems that the problem may be his attitude.
The German is often criticised for his somewhat lazy demeanour during matches. He gives away the ball too easily and seldom wins it back. With hard working attacking players like Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud fighting hard to win and keep possession Ozil appears too carefree and complacent for English fans.
We all know that Ozil has the talent, he was nominated for 2013’s Ballon d’Or and twice made UEFA’s team of the year after all. He wouldn’t have received those accolades easily so perhaps Ozil’s problems at Arsenal truly are down to him failing to get accustomed with the intensity of the English league.
Unfortunately Ozil had a 12-week layoff this season only returning in January as a substitute in their 3-0 triumph against Stoke City. But since then, Ozil’s form has improved and his attitude to the onslaught of criticism has been a positive one. He has scored three times since his return but more importantly he appears to have gained in confidence.
Arsene Wenger continues to give the winger the chance to play in big games such as Arsenal’s Champion’s League second leg against Monaco where the player had a decent game though less focus was on his contribution to the match and more was said about his controversial decision to swap shirts with Geoffrey Kondogbia at half time. Arsenal were knocked out on away goals and Ozil’s professionalism was questioned, as would be expected, but overall supporters still seem to back him.
I think Arsenal fans know that he has the goods but he just needs some more time to really show the league what he is capable of. He is far from hopeless, he just isn’t quite brilliant yet.
Other Premier League stars such as Manchester United’s Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria plus many others including Chelsea’s Diego Costa, who recently has loss some of his initial impressive form, have shown that some foreign players do find it difficult to stay consistent in our fast paced and very physical league. At Real Madrid Ozil was used to playing a less formidable opponent most weekends while now every game is a battle despite the opponent’s table position.
Ozil still has three years left on his Arsenal contract and Wenger seems determined to get the German back to playing at his best. Only time will tell if he ends up being a very expensive mistake for the Gunners or is able to turn things around and repay the managers original faith.