Some question the power of statistics.
In cult 80’s movie ‘Gregory’s Girl,’ the main protagonist in the movie states that, “numbers make the world go round.” The guy has a point. Whilst stats can be skewed to fit around an agenda if the need arises, there are certain facts that cannot be denied.
One of them is this: Mesut Ozil has created more chances this season than any other player in Premier League history. Yet he still remains three short of the assist record.
One hundred and thirty seven opportunities crafted by the German player of the year – that was the amount before the 1-0 win over Norwich. A plethora of goal prospects for our attackers to feast upon gleefully. Only eighteen of these have been converted.
There are no masks or veils that can masquerade this truth. There are no words that can lessen the point. The startling reality is that we are a team that is wasting a world class talent – and this is saddening news.
Arsenal currently have a Jaguar in their fleet – and it stands on bricks instead of wheels. It’s like having a fantastic soup – but being forced to eat it with chopsticks. It’s akin to having the latest in mobile phone technology in your hand, but having no fingers to utilise it.
Enough with the metaphors. Mesut Ozil is being criminally squandered and has been for the majority of the season.
A regular occurrence this campaign has been Mesut in possession, but no one to pass it to. A lack of runners into the box renders his gift moot. Without anyone to aim for, he either passes it back to the player he received it from, or he tries to craft something from nothing.
Some may say that Ozil has shirked responsibility, that a true world-class talent would change games regardless of circumstance. Messi, Suarez and Ronaldo do it on a weekly basis, why can’t Ozil?
If you dropped these players into a team that didn’t fit them as well as their current setting, would they be able to maximise their potential? I highly doubt it.
Mesut has been far from prolific, this article isn’t meant to paper over his weaknesses. It is merely highlighting that he has created a consistent stream of chances for team mates – and they haven’t been capitalised on. It is easy to surmise on the variables – but if it was Sergio Aguero who was feeding from the ample teat of genius that is Ozil – do you think our German playmaker would have grabbed the assist record by now?
More importantly – do you think we would be higher in the league than where we reside right now?
We have recruited a player who is fulfilling his obligations. He was signed on the notion that he would craft opportunities. He is doing this right now and has done throughout this campaign. His recent frustrations on the pitch, some may say, are petulant. Let us try to imagine why he is so exacerbated with the situation during the ninety minutes.
In any vocation, there is always a designated result at the end of the working day. A target that the workforce toils toward. If you turned up to your place of work and, after your eight hours or so of labour, you had failed to materialise any recognisable output thanks to your colleagues, then you would feel mightily aggrieved. If you felt you were actively trying but there was a glass ceiling that stopped your aptitude from flourishing – you would seek pastures new.
We have genuine depth in our squad, and the eleven that we are able to put out every week is peppered with flair and talent. With Cech in goal, Bellerin, Monreal and Koscielny at the back, Cazorla, Coquelin Ramsey and Wilshere all strong in their respective fields, we have every right to have genuine aspirations toward the league title every season.
The problems – for Ozil and Arsenal in general – lie in attack.
We have had Theo Walcott, who has suffered a season which may result in him not only drop down the pecking order, but out of the club. We have had Alexis Sanchez, who had a blip in form and an injury which was always going to happen to a player who refuses to rest. Then we have Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman plays well in a certain system. His flick-ons and link-ups with teammates are effective. He has shown this season however, that he is not an adequate first choice striker for a team with realistic ambitions for the title. I have been proven wrong regarding Giroud. I thought he could be the striker we needed – and I stand corrected. He can still be an effective squad player for us – but he is not the answer.
Ozil and his precise passing need a partner. That partner is runs. Without a player offering a little movement, Mesut cannot present a chance to them. He has, at times, changed proceedings with a finish of his own. To take full advantage of our powers though, we need a willing runner behind enemy lines.
Danny Welbeck made the movements that Ozil craves when he came on as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over the Canaries. His burst of speed is just perfect for what Ozil can craft on a whim. The goal he scored though, also points to a role for Giroud when all around him are of the opinion that he must be sold.
Theo Walcott could still be the player that works perfectly in tandem with Ozil – but a distinct lack of development in his game may point towards a lack of belief, or even a lack of guts to work harder.
Either way, with or without Giroud and Walcott, Ozil needs a more effective striker than what we possess. If this summer doesn’t bring his Christmas wish, then he – along with Sanchez – may seek brighter futures elsewhere. Somewhere theymay just be able to shine a little brighter.