Mesut Ozil at Arsenal should have been a match made in heaven. A classy, silky player for a classy, silky club. When he joined in 2013 for £42.5 million, he became the most expensive German player of all time, with Gunners all over the world heralding the beginning of a new era. Mesut Ozil would be the one to light up the Emirates as Dennis Bergkamp did at Highbury and end Arsenal’s Premier League trophy drought.
But, such a level of hype comes with expectation.
In the five years since, Ozil has tainted his reputation with anonymous performances and mystery illnesses. When fit and up for it, there are few playmakers in the world who can come close to his vision and technique, which frustrates fans all the more knowing he has it in him. However, too often he has gone missing from the big stage and recently, missing completely. Has Unai Emery made his first big call as Arsenal manager to faze out one of his star players? Our tactical analysis takes a look at Ozil’s statistics and whether he would be a crippling loss to Arsenal, or if they would prosper.
Moments of magic, but little else
Our tactical analysis looks at statistics, and Mesut Ozil is a player who’s strengths and weaknesses are clear to see.
Ozil is regarded as the assist king, with a best return of 20 assists in the 2015-16 season. However, last season he couldn’t reach half that. Ozil tied with Aaron Ramsey on eight, with fewer assists per 90 (0.36 compared to 0.39).
That being said, many fans agree he could have had many more had it not been for lacklustre finishing from the strikers. The statistics back this up, with a club-best of 3.01 key passes and 3.38 chances created per 90. This is double the amount of Alex Iwobi who was second, and three times as much as Ramsey, well-known for his ability to be in the right positions to create clear chances.
Ozil’s influence on the game and superb eye for key passes is undeniable, but what irks fans the most is his tag as a ‘luxury’ and ‘lazy’ player. In terms of running statistics, Ozil can do little more to prove his doubters wrong, travelling almost 10 kilometres per game, the third highest in the club. But, running is all well and good but if there is no end result to it, it contributes little. This is backed up by the fact that he has the fewest won tackles per 90, 0.55 per 90 is some way behind Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s record of 1.46. Therein lies the problem for Ozil. One tackle every other game simply isn’t enough for an Unai Emery team looking to prove they can do the ugly stuff to win.
Not even Mesut Ozil’s harshest critics can deny he is probably the most influential player Arsenal have on his day. His contribution in the final third would undeniably be a huge miss if he left the club and would certainly lead to a long-term drop in goals and penetrative threat. However, with Emery at the helm, emphasis is being put on the collective rather than the individual, a hard-working team who can do the tough stuff and are greater than the sum of their parts. This just simply isn’t in Ozil’s DNA as a player. While it would be a loss short-term, our tactical analysis says Arsenal could survive without Ozil.