Friday, 19 September 2014

In Defence of Mesut Ozil

With thoughts of Tuesday night's debacle in Dortmund firmly behind them (that's the story I'm sticking to) Arsenal head to Aston Villa in the Premier League tomorrow afternoon. It's not going to be an easy task for seventh placed Arsenal going to the team in second place and four points above them after four games. Both teams are unbeaten so far, but Villa have won there of their four games while Arsenal have drawn three of theirs.

Arsene Wenger surely has a few decisions to make with his team selection after both Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were again far from their best. With those two players operating at their pinnacle Arsenal pose an attacking threat to any team, but neither of them have really clicked so far this season. Ramsey has managed three goals in seven games, but his overall game had not yet reached the heights of last season. 

On the other hand Ozil came back into the squad late after winning the World Cup with Germany. He didn't have a proper pre season and has constantly been played away from his favoured play makers role. I can't understand how the boss can have one of the best play makers in the world and decide to play him wide left and/or wide right.

He's come in for a lot of stick from some Arsenal fans and plenty of so called experts in the media too. It's hard to know what to make of it all but his lack of pre season didn't help and I'm sure the injury he picked up against Leicester didn't either. I'm not going to rush to judgement on a player of his undoubted talent after a few games where he hasn't impressed as much as I would hope. 

I will say I think he has been deployed in a wide role to accommodate others who have played in a more central role. For me it's a pretty simple scenario where the boss shows his faith in him and plays him in his best position while building a team around him. I don't know how others feel, but I can't wait to see him spearheading the midfield and playing passes for Theo Walcott.

For the moment though Walcott is injured and there are other players who would benefit from his range of passing. What's wrong with playing Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez in wide roles and Danny Welbeck through the middle with Ozil supplying the ammunition. It's a mouth watering prospect and one which could really work from an offensive point of view.

Maybe the problem is the club don't have the players to play a system which would suit Ozil and he is losing out as a result. Arsenal have a lot of creative and skilful players in central midfield roles and it's not easy to accommodate all of them in the team together. Both Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky have missed out recently and so has Chamberlain if you consider him to be a contender in that role.

The financial results released by the club today show there was plenty of money available to invest in the squad in the summer and some players did come in. The real shame is that a strong and aggressive central midfielder to play behind Ozil and in front of the defence wasn't identified and purchased. I find it very hard to imagine Ozil agreed to join Arsenal to be deployed as a wide player just so the team can have as many nippy players as possible in it. Surely it makes sense to build a team around your best player and being in other players to get the best out of him. 

There will be plenty of games for all of the squad to play at different times this season and for those who would like to play in Ozil's favoured role to get a shot at it too. I know he hasn't adjusted fully to the rigours of English football and he looks like he needs to possibly build his physique to cope. It also seems he holds on to the ball too long at times, but he has a great eye for a pass and sometimes the other players aren't making the required runs. I am confident Ozil will come through and prove his quality, but he has to be given the opportunity to do so where he is at his very best.

This started off as a preview of the Arsenal game against Villa and has ended up as a defence of Mesut Ozil which means I'll have to start all over again with my preview. I'll put that out a little later on but for now that's your lot.