When Mesut Ozil was signed last season the Emirates was ecstatic, the fans had finally got their marquee signing, a signing that in many fans eyes make Arsenal a serious Premier League contender again. Things started well and the “the best No.10? Joe Mourinho had ever worked with was starting to show glimpses of the world class talent many know that the former Real Madrid man possesses. Sunderland away was his debut and he did not disappoint, a first class take from nothing more than a hopeful clearance saw him then with a second deadly touch lay a pass on a plate for Olivier Giroud who tucked away with aplomb. This is something that many expected week in week out but now Ozil seems lost.
Ozil returned late along with the rest of Arsenal’s German contingent and thus far has failed to gain form, he missed the 2-0 opening day victory at home to Crystal Palace which is Arsenal’s only win thus far this season. Now I am not suggesting for one minute that the win was all because of Ozil’s absence but there was a better balance against Crystal Palace, so something clearly needs to change. Ozil was ineffective for most part at Everton, even more so at Leicester City. Yesterday the German play-maker looked the best he has so far this season but once again only showed glimpses and did not get involved enough.
Wenger has tinkered with the system used last season when he deployed a 4-2-3-1 system, this suited Ozil’s game, playing just off of a Centre Forward. This season it appears the system will be 4-1-4-1 which seems to be more than a nod to the defensive failures Arsenal had suffered away at Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton last campaign.Arsenal do look more secure, but what does this mean for Ozil? He has found himself positioned out wide this season which does not utilise his talents at all, his one and only position is just behind the Striker where he was played last season, Wenger is fooling himself if he thinks Ozil can be the left winger that Arsenal have been craving since the days of Marc Overmars and Robert Pires. The game at Goodison Park highlighted all the reasons why Ozil is not suited to that position namely his work-rate, if he is to play there he needs to give Nacho Monreal/Kieran Gibbs adequate cover this is not one of his qualities and this is why he should not be played there. In this Summer’s World Cup Ozil was played right of an attacking three which is fine and is completely different to where he has been asked to play this season for Wenger’s side. German coach Joachim Loew clearly told Ozil to just concentrate on keeping the shape of the front 3 and most importantly to concentrate on the final third, this is something that Wenger should be doing. Ozil is a luxury player and needs to be treated as such, Madrid knew that Germany know that but it appears Wenger does not.
Wenger has had a reputation of tinkering with styles based on other sides successes, the early years he adopted a more athletic approach where it was all about power, this could not be illustrated better than to just look at Patrick Vieira who resembled everything that Wenger looked for in a player. Something changed when he saw Barcelona and everyone knows that he admired them greatly and wanted to replicate their style at the Emirates. This brought some success but with the lack of spending and new stadium debt, priority was top four. With Arsenal now able to spend fans are expecting a very different season or at least hoping for one. I can only think he has seen this new 4-1-4-1 system work in the World Cup because it does not suit Arsenal’s style of play. Yes it was an impressive performance yesterday, Arsenal bossed the Midfield against a below par and under strength Manchester City who with Yaya Toure and Fernando look more susceptible to counter attacks.
This system is destined to fail if Wenger keeps playing Ozil on the wing it is decision time for Wenger, he needs to either choose to play a system that brings out the best in Ozil or he needs to drop him. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey looked very good as a pairing centrally yesterday but with Alexis Sanchez looking a constant threat, Theo Walcott to come back in the next 2-3 weeks and Oxlade-Chamberlain also available, it is time for the German to step up or he could find himself on the sidelines in the coming weeks.