A wet and sodden England today makes for a happy Christopher not.
It’s an early start, dark, I’m wet all over and we have to wait another 36 odd hours until The Arsenal are on again.
Still, at least we get a bit of midweek football so I probably shouldn’t grumble too much. And there’s also our radio show on LoveSport tonight. We’ll of course be previewing the game tomorrow as well as giving a bit of a recap on the game at the weekend and of course, the big one on Sunday won’t be missed, but I want to touch on the poll we’ve done about Mesut Özil, because it seems he’s a more divisive player from a fans perspective than I thought.
As you may (or may not) know I’m a massive fan. His vision, his ability to see things others simply can’t, his movement to find spaces, the assists, his ability to glide across the pitch make him – for me at least – a joy to watch. He’s not always been bang on form in the last 18 months or so but how many players were last season? And how much did his season start off a little uncertain because of all of the German National Team stuff going on?
Call me an apologist if you like, but the way the key figures in the German Team just dismissed and rounded on him as well as swathes of the German media was, quite frankly, shameful. Perhaps it may have had an impact on his slightly shaky start?
I said yesterday that it feels like the media are making a little bit of a mountain out of a molehill with the ‘Özil benched and doesn’t come on at all!’ Headlines on Sunday evening and Monday morning. To me it feels like that doesn’t really represent Arsenal fans opinion of the player and I’ve always thought it was about 10% of the fan base who thought he was a busted flush, somebody who shouldn’t be seeing game time, particularly away from home.
Yet the poll Dave ran yesterday evening – which had over 250 votes – suggested that 40% of people thought we would be better without Özil in the team away from home. I’m surprised at that number being so high to be honest, particularly after Mkhi stunk the place out on Sunday, because you can’t tell me having Özil in the pitch wouldn’t have given us more control over the ball.
Some people in replying to the poll suggested that Özil should be used depending on the type of game and the opposition and I agree with that, but to the extent that it should be true for most players we have in the team, because under Wenger we had the undroppables and we all know that it wasn’t the right way to go. Unai has shuffled his playing pack well so far and Sunday was a good example of that, but I don’t think it was the right example, because I think that formation and the team we played against was perfect for an Özil on the pitch master-show.
Think about it; in the first half Bournemouth presses hard, hit the channels and tried to commit more bodies forward, which they were quite successful with because we couldn’t retain possession of the football. One thing you can’t label at Özil is that he loses possession of the ball a lot. He doesn’t. He’s not perfect but he rarely loses possession or misplaces passes. So imagine him being an outlet for the defenders or midfielders to find when we’ve scrapped the ball back. He’d be much more likely to spot a run than anyone else in the team and I just feel like we should have probably given him a crack at Bournemouth on Sunday.
He is a man who if you as a team can get behind an opponent pressing you on the ball can operate in those pockets where you can unlock defences within the blink of an eye. Think about the great goal we scored against Leicester last month. That was in large part down to his (as well as others) influence when Leicester has committed bodies forward and we could capitalise.
On Sunday there were a few diagonals hit to Auba which ran into Begovic’s arms. A few came from Mustafi and whilst Auba applauded the thought, obviously the execution wasn’t there, because Mustafi is a centre half and doesn’t have the touch or ability of an Özil. Had Mesut been on the pitch would we have seen less of that and more balls to him rather than those diagonals?
Again though, that’s not to say I don’t appreciate games where perhaps other players are suited, I just think that in this instance I’m not sure that decision was the right decision by Emery and in most cases throughout the season I think Özil should be starting.
But hey, that’s just me, I’d be more interested in hearing what you guys think. Would you have played Özil on Sunday? Would you play him away from home at Old Trafford a week on Wednesday?
Let me know in the comments.