Is Mesut Ozil doing a Torres?

Mesut Ozil

During his last season at Real Madrid, Özil was, in my opinion, the second best attacking midfielder in the world, second only to Andrés Iniesta. Thus as an Arsenal fan you can imagine the joy I felt when Özil signed for us out the blue on transfer deadline day in 2013. He got off to a good start with an assist against Sunderland during his first game, however he seemed to fade away as the season went on and didn’t have the impact that many hoped he would. His penalty miss against Bayern Munich seemed to be a turning point, and from then on he has been under vast criticism from fans and journalists worldwide. So the question beckons, is he doing a Torres?

In my opinion, not at all. I think that everyone is overreacting, and let me explain why. Despite his performances being underwhelming I don’t think that it was his fault, and instead it was the type of players he was playing with. When playing for Germany in 2010 he was playing in an attack with Müller, Podolski and Klose. All three of these players were always on the go, constantly making runs and creating space which allowed Özil to thread them in on goal. During Euro 2012 he was playing in a team with Reus, Müller and Klose, whilst Gotze also featured frequently. Once again these players were always running in behind the back four, allowing Özil to play his signature through balls into them to create numerous chances. At Real he had Ronaldo, Di Maria, Higuain and Benzema around him. All of whom similarly made runs, stretched defences etc…

However at Arsenal last season he didn’t have these types of players. Walcott was injured for most of the 2013/14 season and so Özil didn’t have anyone making attacking runs whilst he was on the ball. For the majority of games last season he played centrally, with Cazorla to his right, Wilshere to his left and Giroud up front. Cazorla and Wilshere are both great players, but neither are wingers, both preferring to play centrally. It is not in their game to be making the off the ball runs which players like Walcott, Benzema and Müller make instinctively. Whilst they also don’t have the pace to stretch defences and create space like Di Maria, Reus and others do. Also Giroud is not a striker that looks to run in behind defenders and so it was hard for Özil to put him in on goal.

And even when Özil would manage to pick him out, Giroud would probably miss anyway. The point I’m making is that when Özil receives the ball and looks up he has no runners. There’s no space on the pitch, and instead his wingers and striker are static, asking for the ball to feet rather than trying to lose their markers. He can’t play his game and perform at the highest level without runs behind the defence being made. The only real runner he had last season was Ramsey, who would often make runs from deep. However one runner is not enough, and without the right players around him it is no wonder he was not as prolific as many had hoped.

His start for Arsenal this season was not too great either, however he was playing out of position and on the wing in a 4-1-4-1 formation and so this isn’t too surprising. But during the game against Villa he showed a glimpse of his class. He was playing centrally and through Chamberlain and Welbeck he actually had runners who he could find, with him and Welbeck linking up for two of Arsenal’s three goals. Despite a poor season last year, I expect big things from him this year if he plays centrally. With the signings of Sanchez and Welbeck he will have players who are constantly looking to run in behind, like he had at Real, and like he has for Germany. Once Walcott returns in October and Özil’s playing in an attack with Sanchez, Walcott and Welbeck, we will see just how great Özil is once again, and all his recent critics will have to eat their words. Arsenal fans, there is no need to panic, Özil is definitely not the new Torres and he will bounce back to his best this season.


    30 September 2014 - 22:50 BST

    I became an Arsenal fan with the acquisition of Ozil l and I agree with you 100%.but there is a little more to this issue reflecting on the coaching/training. Arsenal apart from its lack of a quality defensive midfield presence is a static team. No time was the lack of attacking mobility more stark than in contrast against Borussia Dartford several weeks ago. Arsenal players are going nowhere thus receiving passes played to the feet of players already standing in a particular space thus causing a situation where the ball stops momentarily on every Arsenal pass. It’s as if the Arsenal players are getting to the spaces too early but the truth is that the offense is not rotating and players are all running away from the ball instead of offering different range passes and angles, including people coming to the Passer and crossing from behind the Passer. If the off the ball running remains as unimaginative and bereft of energy Ozil will continue to be hum drum at this club. When team mobility is so wretched that there is only one available pass per possession (a situation I counted numerous times against Dortmund) serious questions need to be asked of coaching and of players commitment. Ozil will always play football when his team plays at a high level, attracting markers and moving the angle of attack by intelligent runs and touch passing in addition to his laser accurate through-passing and scoring threat.

  2. wenotme10
    02 October 2014 - 09:35 BST

    Let me start by saying that i am a Gooner through and through, and i don’t slate players at will, i make a judgement only after detailed observation. The Club comes first.
    Its not Ozil’s game play that i am too critical off, its his attitude i despise.The Flamini incident (lack of commitment), the Mertsacker incident (refused to acknowledge the fans after the game), his laziness on the pitch, not tracking back after losing the ball, and general lethargy when there are 3 other eager players itching to play out on the bench, holds enough proof.

    Its absolutely fine if a player under performs but tries his best to turn it around. But you look at players like Bentdner and now Ozil, i see a lack of attachment to the club, and an unwillingness to step up to the plate…. that is lethal. Nothing more harmful to a club when your “best player” wants to be isolated from the rest.
    Secondly, Imho, i disagree with the fact that players around him are not fast enough or good enough or under performing or not making runs. A player worth 45 mill should be able to turn a game around regardless. You can’t have everything served on a platter. If you are truly the player that the team is to be based around, then you also need to influence players to suit your style of play. Remember, you are the newcomer, not them
    Thirdly, Its easy to play for star studed teams like Madrid and Germany where all mistakes are hidden and the team can carry you when you are not at your best. Put a Cazorla or a Rosicky in the mix, even they will stand out, i guarantee this. Its players like Van persie ( even though we hate him now) who carried us from 17th to 3rd, and Suarez who more or less single handedly took Pool from a mediocre team to a CL spot, or game changers like Lallana when at Southampton who are truly worth their weight in Gold.
    Lastly, Even though Ozil has given us some good performance, notice they’ve been against the smaller teams. He has failed to perform, more like not even visible against ALL the top clubs.
    CITY, POOL, CHELSEA, UNITED. He has played every second of every minute of all of these games. Dribbling in the middle of the pitch at Anfield losing the ball, and not tracking back resulted in three of the five pool goals. ( i sneaked out of my sisters wedding to watch that blooming game). This instance just highlights what I’ve been trying to say.
    Wenger makes it worse. If a player is not performing you bench him. simples. Okay you give him three games maybe four to get into the flow but dont keep launching a player into first team just because he costed 45 mill at the cost of the team winning. He’s got too much ego up his ars. Instead of making Ozil fight for his place, gives him the luxury of walking into the team which has bred complacency. If Cazorla was played instead of Ozil in all those big matches mentioned the results would’ve been different.

    Recently Wenger said, i am going to drop Sanchez becoz his “slow” style doesn’t suit our gameplay play. Unlike Ozil’s quick Ball release right?! , pfft.

    To conclude i hope Ozil doesn’t become like an Aqualani ( Prince oF Rome) who was sent packing from Pool when he couldn’t cut it in the PL. Not his fault because it was too fast and physical for him. If Ozil can change his attitude and show the class everyone talks about it’ll be great. I could want nothing more than to eat my words. But if you are Arsenal’s no.10, your position in the team is Waaaaaay too important to mess with. Sort it out.

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