Today’s article is by Dyllan Munro
Must try harder – the man who, in his first season, has created a league-leading number of chances for his new team …
You may think the heading refers to increasing tensions in the Middle East caused by an unstable Syria, uncompromising Israel and levels of sectarian violence not saw since the last Old Firm game. Perhaps you suspect it refers to America’s inability to stop school shootings or Britain’s apparent acceptance that class structure is forever ingrained and inescapable. You may suspect I’m talking about the rise of One Direction or the fact that Splash! somehow got re-commissioned for a second series. The matter to which I am actually referring is the stupidity of some Arsenal fans.
Not the section I’ve previously railed about in my own blog that is dismissive of foreign fans and believe you’re only a true Gooner if you’ve battered a policeman outside Highbury. The section concerned is those who seem to be terribly dismissive of our own players. The same people who chanted to “spen’ saam faacking munee” are now questioning the influence of Özil, of Mesut F**king Özil fame.
It’s this blatant abuse of the freedom of expression that makes me think that perhaps it wouldn’t have been that bad for the Germans to have won the war after all. They had their faults, the Germans, but they never accused Özil of being rubbish. In all honesty I initially assumed that the people criticising our talismanic German weren’t fans watching the games, but rather individuals craving attention that had decided they’d grown tired of issuing death threats to Bieber haters. I then witnessed people that I knew to have full control of their cognitive processes voicing, albeit quietly, the belief that perhaps Özil wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.
This drew my attention because either:
a) People I knew had been killed off by a shady organisation and replaced by idiots
b) There may be some basis for the opinion that our £42.5m signing (the biggest in our history, 2nd biggest in Premier League history and the record ever paid for a German) was a flop.
I acknowledge that while watching games it can be very hard to focus entirely on one player so I cast aside my impressions of Özil based on watching him and had a quick perusal of the ol’ stat book. After examining these details and combining it with having watched all Arsenal’s games I came to the conclusion that all those people were tragically afflicted with ignorant fucknugget disease. In all seriousness it’s got to the stage that it’s probably just best for humanity to start over.
If we ignore the fact that it is Özil’s first season with us – and to be honest there’s no reason why we should – then he has still done fantastically well. In our 22 league games so far Mesut has featured in 17 of them, missing 3 at the start before he was signed and 2 in the Christmas period due to a “shoulder injury”. He has created 51 chances for our team, which equates to 20.4% of our overall chances.
That is the highest total for any player in the league, if you’re interested.
He has also scored 4 goals which is surprising given his preference to pass even when on the opposition goal line. While some may criticise this total David Silva, Samir Nasri, Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard all have the same amount. He also has a shot accuracy of 83% as well as a passing accuracy of 88%. Mesut also boasts 7 assists, second only to Rooney in the charts.
If we compare him to Rooney, Nasri & Oscar who have all played well for their respective clubs this campaign we find a similar narrative. Özil shot accuracy 83%, Rooney 54%, Oscar 48% whilst Nasri has 59%. Özil pass accuracy 88%, Rooney 80%, Oscar 82% whilst Nasri has 90% with 82 fewer attempted passes than Özil. Our Germanic talent also has the most key passes out of the quartet. Whilst not particularly relevant, Mesut has yet to be booked in the league, demonstrating our team’s discipline whilst the others have 3 with the exception of Rooney who has somehow managed to accumulate 7. God knows how, then again some of those referees have grandmothers…
I prefer not to use stats as a sole argument as they can be misleading and they definitely don’t tell the whole story. I have been assuming though that you watch the Gunners play and can therefore draw on your experience of watching Özil play. His movement both on and off the ball frees up space for our other players in a way that almost no one else manages. He is one of the most talented players at finding space between defence and midfield, and as Thierry Henry said:
“It always seems like he has time on the ball.”
He is equally adept at drawing defenders away to open space for team-mates. Mesut is well aware that if he makes a run, no defender or defence-minded midfielder is going to leave him open if they can prevent it and he uses this to benefit the team.
The real problem is the mind-set in England. I’m not referring to the pessimism of Arsenal fans where a negative must be found to even the most positive of situations, or the heckling of a player new to the league, country, culture, cuisine, team-mates, manager, atmosphere and system of play. I’m talking about the image of a blood and thunder style footballer ingrained into your national psyche. An England fan will forever hold dear the hard men of old, the Butchers and fellow walking wounded. Jack Wilshere even referenced it a few weeks ago when talking about national teams saying that:
”Spain are technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and tackle hard.”
It’s why a player like Kompany has built up such a strong reputation because all his actions are powerful and full of energy. His ferocious displays full of bravado and fortitude help to mask what have been increasingly glaring deficiencies in his game. It’s also why it has taken so long for a player like Mertesacker to garner the praise he deserves. He won’t make these lunging last ditch tackles as he has already positioned himself in such a manner that those extremes aren’t necessary. His determined positioning and reading of the play couldn’t be further from a John Terry-style lunge or goal line clearance which the fans so love to see.
Mesut finds himself in that category. His glidetacular style and apparently relaxed play is foreign to those who love to see Rooney barge his way past defenders or to see Wilshere drop a shoulder and go past three. Özil isn’t the sort of player to dribble past the team and smash it into the net nor will he ever be. He was bought to augment our style, apply the finishing touches to our Emirates masterpiece. Instead of dribbling past them Özil dissects the defence with a pass or lures defenders with a shoulder feint. We bought arguably the most clinical passer in the game, with the most assists in Europe over the last 5 years. I’m sure that Arsene knew what he was buying and what to expect. If it didn’t match some fans expectations that is their own faults for having poorly constructed pre-conceptions of what Özil would be.
Özil still has some adapting to do in the league, that’s an indisputable fact. The pace of the play and ferocity of some of the smaller teams isn’t matched in the previous leagues he has played in. There is also more of a burden on him here as he is the undoubted star player whereas before there were plenty of other candidates to that title. However Özil will only improve with familiarity especially as other players return from injury. The rest of the league is in trouble when he fully blossoms.
I’ve been Dyllan Munro, thanks for reading and be sure to comment. You can get me on Twitter @GoonerDyllan if you fancy a chat. Thanks everyone.
Another great article young Dyllan.
Its a drum I have been beating for years , only thing that changes is the player the experts fail to understand.
What I’ve found out is that football fans seems to watch different thgs in a game.
For example, I try to pay as much attention to details of who is making a run and what the run is doing to the opposition defence as the same attention I’ll pay to who is receiving the pass eventually. Most of the fans I watch matches with are most often interested in who will eventually receive the pass without acnowledging the runs of others that actually created the space for the eventual recipient of the pass.
It makes me conclude that most people don’t know the make up of a football team hence their groaning and melting down at every little percieved mistake.
Well done on a great article, as with the “experts” who watch Arsenal, the people that this article could be aimed at will pick and choose what they take from it and will miss the point entirely. But thanks for an excellent read. Makes you love Mesut all the more
Dyllan,I agree with every word,all I can say is that in the stadium I’ve never heard a murmur against our German genius,maybe this is because when you see him live you appreciate him even more,his movement & touch is unequaled by any present PL player,maybe the small screen doesn’t do him justice and that is the reason the numnuts are moaning? Anyway Fuck em..
That’s very interesting Mel.
To be honest,while watching live on TV I sometimes think someone has had a poor game.I then watch again and focus on them,and it usually turns out that I was wrong.
What Mel said.
I think the knee-jerk “criticism” of such a sublime player probably stems from members of the twitterati, from bore a glass eye to sleep ex pro’s such as Michael Owen, desperately trying to make a name for himself as a pundit, or some arsehole or other from talksport.
Perhaps it’s because Mesut’s genius is not of the obviously showy variety, that people often miss it. The price tag also brings with it the expectancy of instant greatness, and he has struggled a little with the bonkers pace of this league, but it’s his first season. Ffs.
The fact that people willingly tune in to a certain ginger gobshite wind-up merchant is proof enough that we, as a species, are doomed.
Terrific article Dyllan and like Mel, I’m afraid I agree with you.
It’s an interesting thing, perspective. This season I changed my season ticket and I’m now slightly to the right of the North End goal, front row. This means the only thing between me and the play are a handful of photographers and the odd, stray ball boy or girl.
From where I sit I can definitely confirm your remarks about Ozil and, for that matter, others also frequently wrongly maligned, such as Ollie Geroud. Both players do an inordinate amount of ‘stuff’ off the ball which is rarely fully revealed when watching live on tv, let alone the edited highlights on Match of the Day etc. One of the things I’m least qualified to comment on are offsides and judging what is happening at the Clock End gets tricky. It is normally the case that the game I eventually watch later on tv is actually quite different from the one I’ve seen from my seat!
If you were ever in the unfortunate position of only being able to follow a game on Twitter, the perspective would be changed again. Usually into something entirely unrecognizable but maybe that’s a post for another day.
Back to Dyllan’s article, I do think Theo’s injury was particularly unfortunate for Mesut as Theo represented a very different alternative outlet for Ozil’s passing. My guess is that, small matter of Dyllan’s supporting stats aside, next season, as he beds in further and the likes of Theo return to the side, it will become easier for the more, shall we say, ‘casual’ of observers to understand the German’s value, place and contribution to the side.
My day starts a little later than you guys in blighty but I was bemused to open twitter and to see on my timeline gooners engaged in this faux Ozil-Eriksen debate. Apparently this was precipitated by the usual shitehawks from Talksports who shamelessly engage in this Arsenal-Spurs trolling to goose-up their ratings. The fact that many gooners get sucked into questioning the value of Ozil is confirmation that even in this so-called information age ignorance is just as rampant as ever.
Thanks Dylan for reminding us of that timeless quote by Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….”
Shotta – it was the ironic outcome of the Information Age few predicted; that misinformation would be as prevalent as the truth.
Thanks, really good piece of writing. I’m a great Ozil fan and think, considering this is his first season in the EPL, that he’s done very well. He’s a provider and subtle touch player and I think because of that his performance can be underrated.
I also think that our forward players still need time to get used to his vision and style of play. Sometimes this season his forward attacks have been wasted because our forwards haven’t been quick enough to find the space he wants them in to receive the through ball. Consequently, he’s had to hold play up and wait, or pass backwards. I’m sure this will get worked on in training over this season and should be a lot better next.
The other aspect of his play that ls underrated is the work he does off the ball. He actually works very hard and if you watch him you’ll see that whenever the opposition is attacking he closes down the space between the player with the ball and potential passes to other opposition players moving forward and he’s very good at it. He knows exactly where he and others are on the pitch, he doesn’t need to make a tackle really he just cuts down their passing options and does it the whole game, that is hard work and not very glamorous, but quite effective. The bottom line is he doesn’t stop working for the team.
Mel, you beat me to it! Seeing Özil in the flesh so to speak, you do get to see his movement, awareness and how his very presence disrupts and disturbs the opposition.
Although they are very different players, this is exactly what happened with Theo, but for years! Watching Theo, espeically away from home, you could see how dangerous he was and how vital he was, but for many, they just regurgitated the same old BS; he drifts, is incoinsistentblah blah blah (feeling guilty yet george???).
Seeing similar, but no where near as intense criticism of Mesut is no surprose to me, unfortunately and Dyllan makes a good comparison with Per. Both are way too subtle for a UK audience brought up on blood and thunder hoofball. Shawcross being trumpeted as an internail player for England and all that tedious hoary old twaddle is a case in point.
I am also increasingly becoming bored of the reliance on assists and other stats that to me, can be ultimately meaningless. I am sure the spuds signed Lamela and Capoue based on nothing more than their outstanding whoscored.com stats!
Özil is a dream signing, one that as Arsenal fans we should cherish and be utterly thankful for. It just so happens he is playing in a midfield where his performances have been over shadowed by Ramsey’s all action (Gerrard, uggh) displays, Santi’s blockbuster goals and Jack’s englishness! But he gives the team so much, just by being there.
We are blessed with an exceptional midfield.
Thanks for such an excellent and erudite article.
I watched the Clock End last night on Arsenal TV online and Adrian Clarke was so diplomatic in dealing with a prize numbskull who called into the program to unleash a torrent of doom and gloom because of a lack of signing a striker so far in January!
As I’ve said myself in a call to the same program there are people out there that will complain if Arsenal win the premier league by a single point when it should be by 10!
I also think Yaya is a nother prime example. He is obvious in everything he does; his barn storming runs, freekicks etc. Now, dont get me wrong, he is a wonderful player and I’d love him at Arsenal. You only have to witness what followed Didi Hamman’s criticism of him as being a defensive liability. The astonished responses and howls of derison that followed such a blasphemous declaration showed that none of these highly paid ex-pros had even considered anything beyond the obvious contributions of the younger Toure.
I dont think any sane person can doubt ozil world class status or how he hypnotises the opposition with him floating around the pitch, walking on water, hovering almost and then cha cha cha delivers a key pass or an assist noone had noticed before. just that his laid back personna gives fans the worries whether he will float as purposely in games where big things are at stake. but then again that can happen to anyone.world class henry missed two or three one on ones against valdez. our greatest ever finisher failed us when we needed him the most. no, ozil is not the type to take the ball go past three and smash it in, but when they start constraining him id like to see him getting angry and getting more involved into the game instead of staying out of it. but he is only in his first year ffs, not even year yet. ramsey is never shy for instance but then again the boy has gone through such a fortifying mental experience that others have not. these two and their teleptahic communication will take us far i reckon.
January 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm
ahhhh if only for them ridiculous national caps rule you have to comply with in order to sign for epl club……….
work permit whatever they called it…. ridiculous… we had him at colney …
Apparently so Hunter.
But anyway, it did amuse me you stating how any sane person blah blah…. Like you’d know!!
as he has already positioned himself in such a manner that those extremes aren’t necessary.
tackling is an extreme…tackling is last resort….and when maldini tackled he did it with grace, not like a cannibal
ha dex ..i can be sane when i want… 😉
If you think you might be insane,you’re not.
You keep telling your selves that Georges…
Safety in numbers Dex – every George knows that.
Thanks for that Dyllan and a lucid commentary on the current ‘debate’.
One point that struck me in the Ozil issue is the situation in our midfield this season where we have at least five players performing very, very well.
In previous seasons, in some cases through injury, through shortage of actual numbers of midfield players, lack of experience too as well as the overall form of the players that has not been the case. A player performing well, Santi last season for example, stood out among a midfield who for many months struggled.
This season I do not think among our midfield group anyone stands out as the best performer. Everyone single one has played games where they have stood out but no one, with a price of £42 million or a free transfer, has stood above the others across the season. Every fan I think has their own favourite among the group.
Long may that run of form continue
‘coll,I think Aaron has stood apart.
He has won the Fans’ Player of the Month award George month after month for sure
I think that is mostly guilt ( wink)
Or for month after month (5 to be precise ) he has been standing apart ?
I was at the Arsenal last Saturday and I thought that Özil had an outstanding game and when substituted got a well deserved standing ovation.
However It was slightly embarrassing because Özil doesn’t have a song to walk off to !
Most of the other players have songs and I suspect poor Mesut feels a bit left out.
Until such time as the terrace wits come up with something I would suggest that we let him borrow the Go West tune ( One nil to the Arsenal ! ) until a suitable replacement can be found.
Altogether now Özil of the Arsenal ! Özil of the Arsenal !
However It was slightly embarrassing because Özil doesn’t have a song to walk off to !
mesut ozil mesut ozil
we signed mesut
you sold bale
mesut ozil mesut ozil
It is profound and ingrained guilt George – Aaron is still well in credit for few months yet.
To be honest while AR has had a great season and banged in the goals Per, Olivier, Kosc, Bac, Mesut and Szcz have all shone too, and since he has been off Jack and Santi have come back into form.
great tune …..
especially at 2:00 -2:02
I feel no guilt ‘coll ,I have never wavered in my support or faith
why george who doubted you? is this in twitterland ? mind you im keeping my powder dry till wenger signs da ting….after that expect a tsunami of laughter and abuse towards all doubting tomass;sseessssnakes
That is because you are unique George. Others though, voting for Ramsey each month I suspect not so unwavering.
On my list of players who are responsible for where we are today I should add in Matthieu, Mikel and Tomas.
I have watched Ozil a lot for the last two years playing for Germany, They were in the same WC group as the RoI. He plays the same way for the national team as for Arsenal. It’s a bit deceptively slow paced but devastating.
Ozil is the ultimate exponent of ‘letting the ball do the work’.
In an open game he will destroy teams, but most opposition managers are not going to be that suicidally stupid.
Mesut is Berkampeske and that is it, he might appear to drift in an out of games but he is truly world class. There is no need to debate which is correct between Mesut’s talent and the football ignorance of followers of our great club there is only one very plain answer. Certain fans will always embarrass our allegiance, this is just one of those occasions.
was flamini playing in any of the two games weve played against chelsea?
Thank you all for the kind words.
It’s always nice to hear that efforts are appreciated & that I’m not alone inn my way of thinking. Thanks once again to George for hosting the piece.
well done DYLLAN. Maybe you and my friend are right and the inherent make up of humanity in general isn’t good nor positive, like I used to believe and argue for . I hold on to my slim hopes but the passage of time seems to add more date backing his side of the argument.
Anywho , today we say goodbye to LIAM who did an excellent job with the ARSENAL youths for so many years and could very well have been our first team manager given a chance before deciding on retirement this past summer. Welcome to the new guy in charge and we hope trying to fill in BRADYS big shoes doesn’t drive Mr. JONKERS TOO BONKERS.
good on fa for coming down hard on anelka and his dumbass move on the pitch. Hopefully they will fine him and NA$TRY & SAKHO. but not WBA . Keep your politics off the pitch fellows. No one is interested In your ” anti – establishment” signage.
HELP. moral dilemma. Why did they have to pair up ROGER with ANDY ffs. I’m lost as to whom i want to support now. (0(
Dyllan: “It’s why a player like Kompany has built up such a strong reputation because all his actions are powerful and full of energy. His ferocious displays full of bravado and fortitude help to mask what have been increasingly glaring deficiencies in his game. ”
Kompany is good positionally and can read the game as well as anyone. You add that to the fact that the guy is bigger than a moving van and you have one hell of a player. If he has deficiencies in his game it is for the same reasons we tended to concede goals in seasons past. Lack of midfield cover. You poor forward at speed and teams are going to punish you, even if you have god playing at CB. That’s just the way the game is.
Young Dex mentioned Didi Hamann’s take on Yaya toure and why he thinks he’s a liability. I think now that Pellegrini has chosen not to sacrifice a creative player for a holding midfielder, Kompany is more exposed and City have been conceding more goals. And the player doing the exposing is young Yaya.
“Most of the fans I watch matches with are most often interested in who will eventually receive the pass without acknowledging the runs of others that actually created the space for the eventual recipient of the pass.”
Excellent post, particularly this point. The people you talk about can only appreciate the bleeding obvious, while the more subtle skills of certain players just pass them by. Sometimes you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but if they can’t see it nothing will open their eyes. I just feel sorry for them because they are missing the essence of what matters.
You may want to skip ahead and go directly to Hamann’s analysis.
Hamann: “They play Barcelona in a few weeks time and I don’t think they can play Yaya and Fernandinho in the middle. Because you get torn apart in the middle of the park.”
Fowler and Lineker laugh.
Whatever the reality of incoming transfers, Arsenal are in a strong position going forward, and especially psychologically given last season’s epic last-15 game run. We need around 87 to 90+ points. We have 16 games, and a maximum of 48 points. We have 51. Realistically, we need to win not less than 11 games of last 16, draw not less than 3, lose 2. That would give us 87 points. It might not be enough.
To a degree, Mesut’s consistency – rather than glamorous super-charged performance – has been responsible for our current position. 7 or 8 assist, 4 goals, but much more is calmness, possession and efficient use of the ball, especially late in a match. Weirdly, Mesut reminds me of Per. I can’t remember a stray pass from Per, and Mesut, like Per has the uncanny knack of looking as if he has more time on the ball. It’s deceptive. It means a player that knows in advance of receiving a pass 2 or 3 options already available, means they are always thinking like that. That’s concentration.
When Aaron gets back, and Mikel, soon I hope and when Ox and Lukas are back to 100%; and Tomas is fully OK in about 2 weeks, the depth without Theo, looks impressive. I count 10 hopefully 100% fit players (say within 2 weeks) fully capable, in so many permutations, across 5 positions (excluding striker). Flam, Mikel, Aaron, Jack, Santi, Ozil, Tomas, with Lukas, Ox and maybe even Serge in flanks. There is also NB, and Nacho, who have both played wide. That’s makes 12 players. All this before looking at any youth or fringe player, like Ryo, Coq and the like.
The most important players into the last 16 matches? Impossible to look at it that way, but tempting, for fun. In order of importance: Aaron and Giroud (setting up goals); Sagna, Ozil, Per and Gibbs (stability, possession); Mikel, Santi and Tomas (creativity); Jack, Flamini and Chewie (potential match-winners, for different reasons). Kos, I simply assume will always be hunting them down, so important he doesn’t even get on the list. He “is”.
But for all I know Lukas, Ox and Serge could be our most important players.
Right now, whatever Arsenal miserables think, Arsene is the most important person in Arsenal. He has earned the right.
I meant Sagna, MIKEL, Per and Gibbs (stability, possession); and Mesut, Santi and Tomas (creativity).
I love our players.
Can we keep them?