Arsenal gaffer Mikel Arteta has welcomed the German World Cup winner from the cold but his numbers are not great enough going into Chelsea clash. A lot can change in two decades.
At the moment, Ozil was playing with some of his best football in years and the new deal also helped cushion the blow of losing Alexis Sanchez into Manchester United.
He might have been approaching his 30s, but Ozil was widely regarded as one of Europe’s premier playmakers and Arsenal tied him up before the summer of 2021.
Now, however, almost exactly two years since that touch renewal was confirmed, even the most ardent Ozil fan would be hard pushed to depict it as a victory.
There have been factors that will need to be taken into consideration. Arsene Wenger – the driving force behind Ozil’s choice to depart Real Madrid for north London in 2013 – brought the curtain down on his two-decade long stay at Arsenal and has been replaced by Unai Emery.
The association between Emery and Ozil was a tough one; so much so that Ozil found himself from the group and sometimes even from the match day squad altogether.
Emery desired the World Cup winner to be more than only a playmaker. He demanded more from him defensively and, when he went ahead, Ozil was frequently attacking from a broader area than he would have chosen, as opposed to in the No.10 role where he made his name.
There was also the episode at the beginning of this year when Ozil, and Sead Kolasinac, were victims of an attempted robbery outside the latter’s house, which led to the German sitting out the opening matches of the campaign.
Ozil had to wait until the 2-2 draw Watford on September 15 for his first start of the year and his next league launch did not arrive until November 2 when Emery brought him back to the side against Wolves after his sparkling display at Liverpool at the Carabao Cup.
Since that time, however, the 31-year-old was a regular starter. In most Ozil has made 17 appearances in all competitions this season for Arsenal, but during that time he hasn’t scored and has provided only one help.
There’s absolutely not any doubt the Ozil’s performances have improved since Arteta was appointed last month. He’s been much more influential in matches and is picking up the ball in better places, with the team currently being set up to play to his strengths.
“The needs that we must put on him would be to make the difference each and every match,” Arteta said while talking Ozil’s form before Arsenal’s trip to Chelsea on Tuesday night. “He needs the ideal arrangement and players around him to help him do that.
“I believe he could have had more assists and likely more goals in the matches he’s played under me.
There are many people who consider the days of the traditional No.10 have been gone that the playmaker role isn’t suited to the speed of the modern sport, which so frequently sees teams assault and creates in the wings.
Under Emery, Arsenal predominantly seemed to hurt teams down the flanks, with the wing-backs charged with getting to the touchline and cutting balls back to the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette to complete.
That has shifted slightly under Arteta. It was noteworthy in his first match in charge against Bournemouth how frequently Ozil would fall deep to get the ball in space before driving towards the last third. Had Lacazette been sharper, the German could have picked up at least one help that day.
However, Ozil’s lack of important contributions in the last third can’t only be put down to bad luck. In accordance with Opta, in the past 18 months, there are 35 players in the Premier League that have a much better minutes-per-chance-created speed from open play compared to the German.
Since the beginning of this 2018-19 year Ozil has set up just three goals in all competitions for Arsenal, that is fewer than Henrikh Mkhitaryan (four) and Aaron Ramsey (six) – who left the club in the summer – and Hector Bellerin (five), who has made only seven appearances since January because of injury.
Arteta has got more from Ozil since he came last month but now he wants his playmaker to begin really influencing games in the last third again.
Ozil has started all the five matches that Arteta has managed in the Premier League because he was appointed. But in that time he’s attempted just one shot and, although he led four important moves in the draws together with Bournemouth and Sheffield United has yet to directly establish a goal. For a player who’s at the side purely to make, those amounts are not good enough.
Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night knowing victory will cut the gap into the top four to seven points.
Ozil has often been criticised of going missing in these sort of games, there might never be a better time for him to establish a few of those critics wrong.