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The Season’s impressions: midfield wizards part 1

By Walter Broeckx

Moving slowly due to a lack of time in this off-season (how silly that might sound) we continue our review of last season and we continue in midfield. And the main person I will talk about in this article has somehow got a big lift in the last few days. More on that later.

If we would have said one season ago that Mesut Özil would be an Arsenal player we would have laughed it away. Surely no way that Real Madrid would let one of their best players go? And surely Wenger wouldn’t spend the money. Well to be honest even I didn’t think it could happen when the first rumours came above water. But it did.

In his first season for Arsenal Özil played in total in 37 matches. And he scored 7 goals and had 11 assists.  So he had a goal contribution of around 1 goal every two matches.  Not that bad for a first season. And for a player who had no pre-season with the rest of the team. And who suddenly was put in a team he didn’t know.

I think he made an impressive start to his Arsenal career. Showing his killer-ball ability scoring a wonderful goal against Napoli. You could see the class. If you wanted to see it.

On Untold we have had a bit of a debate of who lifted whom. I do think Özil lifted the fickle fans a bit. But did he lift other players around him? Yes and no. I will try to explain. He was great in some matches but as football is a team sport he couldn’t do it all by himself. And I think we all will agree that players like Ramsey who stepped up this season was not due to Özil arriving but because it was his time to step up.

Ramsey was already inspired and impressive from the first pre season matches. And continued to do this till around December. Of course the arrival of Özil added to his form as it made it more difficult for other teams to mark them and to make it more difficult for Arsenal. If they focussed on Özil, Ramsey could destroy them, if they focussed on Ramsey, Özil could destroy them.

From January on the form of Özil dipped. And the media jumped on to this and tried to label him as a flop. Apart from this being ridiculous it was amazing that nobody really asked themselves the question why his form dropped.

The furthest some went was saying that he didn’t get any rest around Decembre-January. This might have been part of it. As this is a moment a lot of new players have a bit of a set back. But the simple reason and for me it was so obvious that I still find it amazing that nobody in the serious media even mentioned it (well not that I know). The major reason for Özil dropping was the fact that he lost two of the most important players in our attacking system: Ramsey and Walcott.

Ramsey because of both of them sharing the weight of the the attack from midfield. And Walcott because he was the best option for Özil to play a through ball. So when both of them were missing, Özil went missing a bit. Because the players that came in to the place didn’t have the things Ramsey and Walcott have.

I also would like to point at the fact that lot of the good work done by Özil is not only in the goals or assists. The pass before the assist is where he was most influential. I saw a statistic about this a few weeks ago, I saved it, but now can’t find it any more.

But my memory suggests it showed that Özil was the man who created most opportunities on the PL – more than any other team. Of course it didn’t always lead to a goal but he was the man that started moves that lead to goal scoring chances. He was the best in the PL.

So with a little bit of better finishing after his initial ball we would have scored a few more goals, maybe got a few more points. And if you remember the words of Wenger after the season on what was needed you now will see that it wasn’t a Fabregas that was needed. It was someone that would use the balls from Özil better.

Having Theo and Ramsey fit would be already one big giant step forward. Having another top striker somewhere upfront might help also. My thought is Wenger is keeping his powder dry to purchase that striker. Even Giroud hinted at this a few days ago.

What also is important is the fact that by saying no to Fabregas, Wenger also gave a clear message to Özil. It said: Mesut, you are the man. You are the one that we trust completely to deliver. And it will make Özil feel more important. And just like Fabregas he is a man that needs to feel that importance. It will make him confident and stronger.

I expect a lot next season from the wizard of Oz(il). If we can keep Ramsey and Theo fit and who know add another striker that can make better use of his passes we might be ready for another title fight next season.

So I will now keep my fingers crossed that in the next 4 weeks or so our wizard will not be the victim of an injury as that would really be a big blow for us. For those saying now we should have signed Fabregas to cover that possibility I can only shake my head in disbelief. Just look at Fabregas and what happens to him when he doesn’t get a team built around him. He loses 50% of his brilliance.  So Fabregas as a backup is no option for Özil. However much I liked Fabregas and my heart wishing him back at Arsenal, I can understand that the head needed to say no.

 

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7 comments to The Season’s impressions: midfield wizards part 1

  • davi

    I don’t think Ozil needs to feel like the main man at all. He wasn’t at Real nor when he first started playing for Germany but he was great. I really think he thrives by integrating into the team and is brilliant at subtly effecting the game, but is less brilliant when he’s the guy everyone is looking at to do something, I don’t think he likes that pressure (this opinion is based only on what I’ve seen of him this season and of course everything could be different after having that year to acclimatise).
    Fabregas doesn’t necessarily need to be the main man to do well, but judging on what we saw from him at Arsenal in comparison to what he did at Barca, he’s at his best being the focal point of the team. I really think it was a big mistake not to sign him back because he could have taken the pressure of Ozil and brought the best out of him. If Cazorla really wants to leave then who better to take Santi’s place in the squad? Honestly, the running, skill and finishing of Ramsey in combination with the intelligence and passing ability of Cesc is surely the best possible CM pair I can think of for Arsenal. Add to that the subtle brilliance of Ozil in a freer role and I really think we could have forged a side capable of beating anyone even on an average day.

  • MO11

    Davi

    I disagree totaly. Ozil left Real because he felt he wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved and after they signed Isco and Bale he felt he would fall further behind in the pecking order.

    I agree that come January Ozil dipped because key players were out and I believe he was tried. Ozil likes to be the main man in a creative sense just like Bergkamp and Zidane were. Ozil no doubt will be better next season and will develop like Zidane did as one of the best if not the best I have no doubt in that. He is class and if he and Germany have a good WC then I can’t wait to see him in the red and white.

    Ozil gets so much flack from the press here its unreal unless he scores a hatrick every game and assist three goals hes had a shocker. Like I said he will become the best in the world in his position given time and its not like hes a million miles away from that now. He just needs to focus on his game and forget the rest of the BS people say.

    You talk about Cesc and Rambo being the prefect midfield. I disagree what we lack is a combative player to sit in front of defence and not worry about bombing forward. In the games were we suffered heavy losses had we had a player like that it would have been very different. I would love to see a Pogba/Vidal/Kaderia type player in our team with Rambo/Wilshire in the middle.

  • Ollie Hackney

    With reference to Santo, hasn’t he just signed a contract? My conclusion is that santi wants to leave is paper selling/click bait. It was also the day after cesc Chelsea. Coincidence?

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Walter.

    Re our attacking midfielders I agree the combination of Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott with one of Cazorla/Podolski makes it very difficult for the opposition to mark and almost impossible to double mark and one of the four.

    To cope with injuries/rotation we would have Rosicky, Ox, Wilshere & Diaby – still a lot of creativity here.

    The most influential midfielder is, as you rightly identify, Ramsey. To fully cover for rotation/injury we need one of the other midfielders to be able to step into that box to box role – Diaby would be ideal if he could stay fit.

  • Vintage Gooner

    Walter

    I agree totally with your comments on Ozil and particularly that he plays for the team and top quality players bring out the best in him and in turn he the best in them.

    The only point I disagree is on Cesc. If he had come back it should have been to replace Arteta who I feel is just beginning to struggle a little particularly if called upon for around 50 matches in a season. With Cesc using his skill experience and footballing nous as the sitting midfielder we could have added Flamini when we needed more steel and Arteta would have been outstanding for back-up and rotation.

    However sadly not to be and I fear we will spend a similar money for the same purpose in a holding midfield role but to less effect.

  • AL

    Ozil is a victim of his own success; if he doesn’t provide 3 assists per game then he’s had an awful game like MO11 said.

    I think Ozil and Santi are going to be devastating next season, especially with Theo back in the starting line up providing an outlet for those killer through balls, and Ramsey running into space. This season we never really had that many games with all four available. In fact I don’t think there was a run where we had a stable partnership, it was either this or that player out injured. As soon as two players were about to go on a decent run one would get injured, and so on.

  • odiri

    What makes us think that we know more than Wenger? He did discuss with Fabregas, he was consulted before he said no…now Wenger didn’t come out to say that he didn’t sign Cesc bcos he had Ozil or am i mistaking? Every player has a right to say whatever he likes to make others feel good about his decisions.

    To me, Ozil is 100 times better than Cesc…it is not just about the killer pass but rather the balance of the team, the team spirit and Ozil has that..