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An Özil of All Trades

By Jerry

Mesut Özil is an amazing player in my opinion that has received unfair criticism from the media since his arrival from Real Madrid last year. The criticism, in my opinion, has been over the top and I have failed to understand why. Is it because of the huge transfer fee, contribution to the team, his body language, or some other unknown reason? I admit that it seems that I have been watching a different Özil during his Arsenal career than his critics. This article will attempt to dismiss many of the myths that have been written to discredit this great talent.

The high transfer fee clearly puts a target on the player. The higher the transfer fee is, the higher the expectation. Below I have created a table comparing the 2014/2015 statistics of Özil with many other recent high profile Premier League transfers in similar positions – Cesc Fàbregas, Eden Hazard, Ángel Di María, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, David Silva, and Érik Lamela.

ozil stats Jerrry

(Stats are from WhoScored.com which includes matches from the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, and cup matches (as of March 1, 2015) and the transfer values are from transferleague.co.uk)

The first statistics you will notice is that the Arsenal magician has made the lowest amount of appearances and played the second lowest amount of minutes due to his knee injury that sidelined him for nearly 3 months. Please remember to take this into account when comparing the statistics. Mesut Özil has scored 4 goals at a rate of 1 goal every 305 minutes.

The minutes per goal rate ranks him as number 5 on the list, but remember all of his goals have come from open play, not the penalty spot. For example, Hazard has scored 13 goals but if you remove the 4 goals that have come from the penalty spot, his Mins/goal ratio during open play is 315, which is actually higher than Özil. Hazard correctly gets praise for his amazing ability, but why doesn’t Arsenal’s World Cup winner who has a better minutes/goal and minutes/assist rate during open play?

In fact, out of all these world class attacking midfielders that have transferred to the Premier League, the German magician has either a better mins/goal or mins/assist ratio. Özil’s passing percentage is also the 2nd highest on the list this year. According to Opta statistics, since his arrival Mesut Özil actually has the 3rd highest minutes/assist ratio in Premier League history (Jose Antonio Reyes, Fabregas, and Özil). The stats show Özil is the best overall midfielder, a Jack of all trades and master of everything (An Özil of All Trades)! If the problem is not performance related, why does he receive so much criticism?

The body language Özil portrays on the field has been the brunt of his criticism. He looks too cool, calm, collected, and “languid” on the pitch. He does not show positive or negative emotions during the game, and just seems to glide around the pitch. Statistics actually show that during most matches since his return, Özil runs further than most players on the same pitch. The criticism of his body language is unfair, because many great players are able to control the pace of the game which is exactly what he is doing. Özil’s calm demeanor is what allows him to see passes and find space that no one else does. He blends into the game like a chameleon and then does something amazing on the pitch before you know it.

More importantly, why is Özil being criticized for the way he looks on the pitch? The phrasing of my question is deliberate, because that is an issue that FIFA and the Premier League have supposedly been trying to stamp out of the game, yet the way he looks on the pitch has been the main focus of his critics.

Many people want to criticize Mesut Özil and they have a right to their opinion. The truth, however, shows that Mesut Özil is an amazing talent and arguably the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League. Arsenal are lucky to have him and I am a grateful Gooner to be able to watch this World Class talent every game!

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The books

42 comments to An Özil of All Trades

  • KiwiGooner

    I’m with you on this Jerry, we are lucky to have Ozil. He is truly talented.

  • Pete

    Hear Hear!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Always had Ozil down as a sniper rather than an assault trooper, but have been very impressed with him, not least his work rate. The world champions played him every game in the World Cup.His ability is sublime, yes, we are lucky to have such players. The media know it too, that’s why they are always on about him. Think they are mistaking him for Di Maria in their comments.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    We are all made differently by the Almighty God the creator of every human being. Ozil is behaving the way God has created him to be a calm, quiet, calculative and unemotional person. If anybody is trying to force Ozil to change his attitude, the person could be wasting his time because he may not change overnight. Let’s not forget that Ozil was having a burst up or disagreements with his Father and his girlfriend that gilted him. Those two issues could be having a depressing effect on Ozil’s emotions and personality. Which I think he will overcome with the passing of the time should that be the case. Implore Ozil to forget all unjustifiable criticisms and keep the justifiable ones with a view of doing something positive on them. I am sure Ozil will perform magnificently at Old Trafford on Monday’s night to give Arsenal a victory over Manchester United.

  • jayramfootball

    Arsenal’s most talented player and currently THE man in form in the team. I was pleased t see him voted as Arsenal’s player of the month for February. He was simply outstanding over that period.

    One thing is for sure is that the price tag is not the issue here. Di Maria cost £65m, yet despite his dip in form (most of the stats you see on your table for him were early season), he was described as world class and off form because of his team mates in UTDs last game. Here and Mata have had nothing like the same criticism despite not nearly being as good, so it can’t be because Ozil has joined a high profile club with high expectations.

    So either it is his style and the fact he doesn’t get emotional, the fact he is German or both combined with the fact he plays for Arsenal. Lets remember that Adams had to put up with donkey jibes, Bergkamp was the ‘Hartlefool’, Henry got branded a waste of money after his first 5 games. The media in this country for whatever reason have it in for Arsenal and are constantly trying to unsettle the teams – especially the players they are scared will a success. They were TOTALLY and UTTERLY humiliated by Bergkamp in the end – though never found an apology from the hacks who tried to destroy him at the time. Hopefully Ozil will continue to humiliate them, because I am seeing that their hypocrisy and bias is starting to be called out by more and more people.

  • Jerry

    Thank you Walter and Tony for posting it, and thanks KiwiGooner and Pete. Look forward to the feedback on the article.

    I became annoyed reading all the criticism that Özil has been receiving from the media and now Paul Scholes, which motivated me to compare the way Özil has been playing compared to other recent transfers who seem to do no wrong for the media. I look forward to watching Özil continue to grow in this team and get to full strength after his injury.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    We are all made differently by the Almighty God the creator of every human being. Ozil is behaving the way God has created him to be a calm, quiet, calculative and unemotional person. If anybody is trying to force Ozil to change his attitude, the person could be wasting his time because he may not change overnight. Let’s not forget that Ozil was having a burst up or disagreements with his Father and his girlfriend that gilted him. Those two issues could be having a depressing effect on Ozil’s emotions and personality. Which I think he will overcome with the passing of the time should that be the case. I implore Ozil to forget all unjustifiable criticisms and keep the justifiable ones with a view of doing something positive on them. I am sure Ozil will perform magnificently at Old Trafford on Monday’s night to give Arsenal a victory over Manchester United.

  • patrico

    Ozil is indeed a rare talent. Cool & always collective. His use of football brain & wisdom is unique. A pass leading to Rosky goal last speak volume of what he is made of. Display of s
    uperb skill!

  • DR

    I think you’re stretching things with comparing a criticism of body language to racism, but you’re spot on; it feels snobby to say that if you can’t see what Ozil is doing you don’t understand football but if the shoe fits…

  • para

    Ozil is an Arsenal spirit for true. He will be a mainstay for Arsenal in the next years and can pass on his knowledge to youth coming up.

    Scholes is just trying to put “pressure” on Ozil because of the upcoming match. It is always interesting to notice the timing of the comments.

    They will all be searching for the words to describe our performance, and can’t find any, so they will instead dwell on how unlucky Manu was.

  • jayramfootball

    What makes me even more livid is Arsenal fans trying to justify why Ozil might be playing badly. He is NOT. His first season was on the whole brilliant. He had a dip in form for a month and got injured. The rest of the season he was the driving force of our team and we went on to win a trophy- a campaign in which he was extremely influential. Compare his first season to other creative players in their first seasons and you will be surprised just how much better Ozil was than the vast majority. Do not let a word of the bias crap from the media sink in – none of it is true and they should be ashamed of themselves for some of their comments. Whilst this can not be compared to racism it IS victimisation for reasons that are less then legitimate to say the least.

    I have a feeling the same people – like Scholes – will be sitting a bit more uncomfortably on their seats in the months and years to come. After such a good string of performances they are already starting to look like morons. I predict they won’t admit they were wrong though, they will just go quiet.

  • goonersince72

    Well said. I will restate my last two comments re the sublime Ozil since ‘Ozil to the Arsenal’ is still my wallpaper.

    When RM were introducing BaleOut at the Bernabeu Cristiano Ronaldo was asked his thoughts. He reacted ‘why did we have to sell Ozil? I was scoring 30 goals a season before him and 50 goals with him’. This is arguably the best player in the world on one of the top 2 teams in the world saying this. And who starts and creates in every game for the effin’ World Cup Winners? His style of play is most appreciated by those he’s elevating – his teammates. the media and aaa would have it that if you don’t ‘get stuck in’ you’re not a ‘proper footballer’. Rubbish.
    My other comment was- “I don’t care if Ozil is tying his bootlaces for 89 minutes because if a moment of brilliance or space created is required, he will do it. It’s what he does, not too many players in world football can say that. I’ll take that split second of brilliance every time. It’s enough for Real Madrid and Germany. Not good enough for Arsenal or the EPL? Please.

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the feedback.
    @DR, I agree that to compare the criticism of Özil to racism would be a stretch and do not want the takeaway of the article to be that, but to consider the criticism of the way a person looks on the pitch to discrimination is not a stretch (which is what FIFA’s official stance through article 3 is against which includes race).

    My hope is to point out the hypocrisy when you compare his statistics to other recent transfers who for some other reason constantly only receive praise.

  • Omerta

    “Keep Calm and let Özil take care of the (counter-)attack”.
    I’d probably buy that t-shirt.

  • i agree with you,we are lucky to have Ozil in our team,much of what Özil does well doesn’t show up on a stat sheet. The only metric you’ll see him consistently produce is chance creation, where, since arriving in the Premier League, he’s fourth per 90 minutes, which corresponds with him also being fourth in assists per 90 minutes. So, he’s clearly creating chances, but outside of that one very specific skill he’s not going to show up on any top 10 lists

  • Nonny

    I don’t know how good Ozil is but this I know. He started every of the 7 games for Germany on their way to lifting the World Cup. He starts every game for Arsenal whenever he is fit. No matter what these ‘children’ say, Arsene Wenger who knows the quality in him and what he brings to the team will continue to field him.

    In my humble opinion, Ozil has been a star player for Arsenal and all those who see him as very dangerous have looked for a way to say things that will unsettle him and thus affect his performance. Statistics don’t lie. Ozil’s performance is better than Coutinio’s whose praise is been sang daily by the press.

    At the end of the day Wenger understands the jewel he has and uses him well. He will continue to excel no matter what detractors say.

  • Sifi

    Jerry your article is spot on. I’m fed up listening to motd, sky, bt sport and that fud Adrian Durham all saying Ozil is no good. Bbc never mention him in a gud light and cut out all the class things OZIL does on the park. B. Dortmund manager klopp summed it up when Ozil was injured ” ozil! When playing nobody needs him, when not playing everyone needs him”. Hahahehe

  • Thanks Jerry: top article and I enjoyed it. My only criticism of Ozil is that on the (admittedly) few occasions I have been able to go to The Emirates since he signed he has been unavailable for one reason or another, and so I have not been able to see him in the flesh. Which is a real pity, because from what I have seen on the TV he is one of the best players I have ever had the privilege to watch. I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if he is on the receiving end of some pretty rough challenges on Monday, and I just hope he emerges unscathed.

  • Hey, since when did the criticism of dim wits become our blueprint? Anyone criticizing Ozil is a so-and-so, period.

    Why dont they leave someone else’s player alone? ManU has much bigger fish to fry in Van Pur$ie, Falcao, Di Maria, Mata etc. All these are VERY expensive acquisitions, expected to take the EPL by storm and restore Man U to ‘their place’. Did that happen? No. Will it happen? Not likely. Why? Because they are nothing but sh*t, and they know it.

    They will find out on Monday how to be hurt and swallow their own teeth. Monday’s going to be a reality check for them. Good, so good it will take place on their home turf. Scholes and Neville are in for a sleepless night. Ozil’s going to make them cry.

  • Mandy Dodd

    A bit off topic, but see Bac is unhappy at being a bit part player at city and is considering his future…..if you can believe our media…Won’t slag him off, he was a warrior right up until his last game for us, and what a last game, but not sure what he expected, the grass is not always greener, though the cash might make up for it.
    Still we move on with Debuchy, the amazing Bellerin and chambers , but have a nasty feeling we will see,Bac in a spurs shirt,,seems the way of things.

  • It isn’t difficult to understand why the media and the aaa are on his case. Here are some obvious reasons:

    1)He’s a German AND a Muslim of Turkish origin who does the salat or daily prayer before a match,
    2)He’s very introspective and undemonstrative, even when he scores a goal….not good media fodder,
    3)He plays for Arsenal, is the flavour of the month and is a high profile player who is far too humble,
    4)He cost a fortune according to the media so he is a prime target for criticism and finger-pointing as a slacker, even if he isn’t but the media make up their reality as they stumble along,
    5)Wenger is a big fan and that is enough to prompt the vengeful media to pillory Ozil,
    6)It takes real Football sagesse to appreciate his contributions….the media and aaa are specifically and prfoundly bereft of that.
    7)His looks are peculiar and not v

  • It isn’t difficult to understand why the media and the aaa are on his case. Here are some obvious reasons:

    1)He’s a German AND a Muslim of Turkish origin who does the salat or daily prayer before a match,
    2)He’s very introspective and undemonstrative, even when he scores a goal….not good media fodder,
    3)He plays for Arsenal, is the flavour of the month and is a high profile player who is far too humble,
    4)He cost a fortune according to the media so he is a prime target for criticism and finger-pointing as a slacker, even if he isn’t, but the media make up their reality as they stumble along,
    5)Wenger is a big fan and that is enough to prompt the vengeful media to pillory Ozil,
    6)It takes real Football sagesse to appreciate his contributions….the media and aaa are specifically and profoundly bereft of that.
    7)His looks are peculiar and not very British with his bulging eyes and languid style…too composed for the media and aaa….a good Footballer should be full of angst and show it, or rage a la Joey Barton.

  • Oluwatoba

    Languid midfielders aren’t produced by academies, they are crafted by street football but they eventually get noticed. Zidane, Kanu, Yaya, Özil these players are gifted with supreme vision of the football pitch and with this quality command the respect of their team mates. On the French world cup winning team, one of the French players I couldn’t recall said something related to ‘when we don’t know what to do with the ball, we pass it to Zidane’. That statement summarizes why these players are so important to the team, a coach can’t afford to not start then, apart from significant technical contribution in the pitch, their absence can affect team spirit.

  • para

    @omgarsenal
    And on top of all that he is a great player.

    They are trying to put him off his game with attacks from all quarters, but he has become strong.

    Many will look back and try to piece together the re-building of Arsenal MkII(stadium change) yet it is happening right before our eyes, and we get to live it.

  • Damilare

    Thanks Jerry for such a wonderful article for a wonderful player.
    Ironically, why can’t we see what ‘ everyone ‘ (media) could see easily? Ozil lack some basic media savvy ‘qualities’.

    1. Can Ozil two-foot a brilliant footballer and boldly say it on tv?
    2. Can he sh*g his teammates WAGs without shame?
    3. Can he wreck an expensive Ferrari without blinking?
    4. Can he stamp an opponent or plant his studs into an injured player on the floor?
    5. Can he cause controversies in the dressing room regularly?
    6. Can he spit on opponents, or bite at them with impunity?
    7. Can he racially abuse fellow footballers?
    8. Can he throw coins at opponent fans?
    9. Can he dive and cheat his way to getting match results in his team’s favour?
    10. He cannot even club, party and drink all night…poor guy threw his WC bonus on some unknown sick children ( God bless their hearts and his ).
    I can go on and on. So what’s so special about Ozil that you all expect media acceptance and worship?

  • ARSENAL 13

    I’ve not seen Bergkamp play. All I’ve seen youtube videos of him. And when I look at Ozil, I just feel Bergkamp would’ve been as good to watch. I feel Ozil is the most efficient footballer ever.

    He doesnt display emotions on the pitch, is it…..Do you remember his celebration when Ramsey scored the winner at Dortmund. Pure emotion.

  • Damilare

    Thanks Jerry for such a wonderful article for a wonderful player.
    Ironically, why can’t we all see what ‘everyone’ (media) could see easily? Ozil lack some basic media-love ‘qualities’.

    1. Can Ozil two-foot a brilliant footballer and boldly say it on tv?
    2. Can he sh*g his teammates WAGs without shame?
    3. Can he wreck an expensive Ferrari without blinking?
    4. Can he stamp an opponent or plant his studs into an injured player on the floor?
    5. Can he cause controversies in the dressing room regularly?
    6. Can he spit on opponents, or bite at them with impunity?
    7. Can he racially abuse fellow footballers?
    8. Can he throw coins at opponent fans?
    9. Can he dive and cheat his way to getting match results in his team’s favour?
    10. He cannot even club, party and drink all night…poor guy threw his WC bonus on some unknown sick children ( God bless their hearts and his ).
    I can go on and on. So what’s so special about Ozil that you all expect media acceptance and worship?

  • Damilare

    More so, it seems Maureen doesn’t know much about football when he said ‘Ozil is the best number 10 in the world’.
    And CR7 was just a whining baby by saying Real mad shouldn’t have let Mesut go.
    The truth is these guys are correct.
    Recently, AW spoke about Ozil’s ‘physical potentials’. That sounds a lot like some greater magic is to be seen from Ozil soon.
    Please Mesut, begin to unleash that potential on Manure on Monday night at the very Old Toilet.

  • Desert Gooner

    If one takes into account Paul Scholes latest comments on Ozil it’s quite apparent he’s trying his damnedest to be contrarian, wise and insightful, whilst in fact he’s projecting. He’s deflecting attention from Man U and their shortcomings (many a team would take these shortcomings at an instant just ask Leicester, QPR et al – that’s the media you see). So the cop out is to follow on the anti Arsenal narrative: 1 trophy in 10 years, no DM, Wenger is the problem, Ozil…voila you have an article; how tired.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Oh the ironies of this article.. ” He is not that type of guy”.. Wish we had seen such an article after Ramsey tackle..

    He says spitting is not the same as leg break but never spoke against leg breaking tackles..

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2983142/Jamie-Carragher-Spitting-disgusting-punishment-given-Papiss-Cisse-excessive.html

  • nicky

    On Monday, no longer with thugs like Keane, the Nevilles Scholes, etc, Manchester United will have to play football instead of GBH.
    And Arsenal will need to keep well away from those two synchronised divers, Wayne and Ashley, in the penalty area.

  • Pete

    Damilare – I think he may have been accused of one of those…!

    In all seriousness, I sometimes go to football really looking forward to watching one player in particular. I remember going home and away in the early part of 1997/8 season – specifically because I thought the spell of form that Dennis was in at that time was something I may never see again. 15 or so successive games of the most sublime quality (think the Leicester hat-trick). So far, I have been right…

    Ozil is not quite at that point now – but his current form is becoming imperious – and I still think there is significant room for further development as he gets more match sharp and the team settles around him.

  • TailGunner

    Stats can be manipulated to prove any argument, but the ones about Ozil covering more distance than team mates is probably true in the respect that he’s always moving around looking for space ( and usually finding it ) between the lines in the way that Cesc used to.
    He may not cover ground back to front ( like Ramsey ), but is one of the most productive forward players in our squad and should be cherished as such.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I wouldn’t go as far as calling them total thugs in the league of those you mention Nicky, but Itd still have players like smalling , McNair and Fellaini who not only cause damage to others, but who are repeatedly allowed to get away with it by refs, especially at OT. Utd still get a hell of a lot of decisions their way, witness the penalty Newcastle should have been awarded just this week. The several month shunning of clattenberg shows what happen if a ref does not play ball with Utd…….and you know who will surely be watching in the directors box. So a bit of pressure on the ref.
    But I am hoping ….perhaps against hope, for a fairer ref performance than we would prob get in the league from this young, and supposedly up and coming ref. The FA themselves are an embarrassment to the game, but I hope their tournament, unlike the premier league is free from the influence of scudamore and sky…..or am I being naive….

  • Tom

    For my money, Ozil is a footballing genius , who might’ve picked the wrong club in the wrong league in which to showcase his tremendous talents.

    His ability to find a perfectly weighted pass over any distance in the final third, is second to none.
    He is the closest thing to a top golfer being able to select the right club ,to get on to the green for an easy par.

    The reason players like Ronaldo love Ozil on their team, is because he’s unselfish and always looking to play you in on goal.
    Most balls from Ozil don’t need controlling at all , such is the precision of his passing.
    Forwards like nothing more than being able to run on the the ball without having to control it.

    Why the wrong club in the wrong league then?

    Arsenal get more unwarranted criticizm then any other PL team , in a league that appreciates the physical effort more than any other top European league.
    He’s an artist in the workmen like league.
    Tony Adams once pulled Lee Dixon aside and told him before a game against Wimbledon ” Forget about football today. This is going to be a f…ing war.”

    In a game like that Ozil becomes useless. He is easily unsettled by over the top physical contact which no other league tolerates.

    Mourinho has exploited this fact against Ozil, and other managers have followed suit.

    In a proper game of football where usual norms of behavior are observed and strictly guided by officials, Ozil excels.

    So let’s see who Ozil gets the most criticizm from.
    Ex players like Gary Neville and his type.
    Neville’s game consisted of 90% of effort and 10% skills. He was everything Ozil is not. As a matter of fact he was exactly the type of player who’s job was to “cripple” players like Ozil as early and as often in a game as possible.

    Media criticizm of Ozil requires no explanation.

    Arsenal fans who might be unhappy with Ozil are usually fans who are unhappy with the club in general.

    But I get that he is not everyone’s cup of tee, but to call him a flop or under performer, is way of the mark which Jerry’s article proves beyond doubt.

  • blacksheep63

    I think you make many good points Jerry as does OMGArsenal – Ozil is a Muslim, not exactly flavour of the month with the tabloids. I watch him and he’s brilliant but such a contrast with Alexis who is a Tasmanian devil on the pitch. Perhaps its that most of the pundits and commentators were journeymen footballers, not skilled masters like Mesut; they ‘ran around a lot’ and ‘got stuck in’. Its proabbly why we only won the world cup once, at home, and with a dodgy goal

    By the way Samuel, can you keep your ‘god’ stuff to a minimum, we’re not all as convinced by the existence of a divine force as you appear to be 🙂

  • Menace

    What you cant see wont hurt you. Not true about Mesut Ozil.

    This player is almost invisible because of the simplicity of his play, sublime is not sufficient to describe the way he plays. His positional play & his vision makes everything he does look almost like it didn’t happen. Media don’t see it, that’s for sure.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    His play has been breathtaking , with such weighted passes . More , please !

  • AL

    Mesut=Genius

  • Pat

    Good points about the ‘get stuck in’ brigade. Robbie Savage was at it again on BT Sport today. I had to turn the sound down as I couldn’t stand it.

    Mesut Ozil is too good for the likes of him. His skills are too subtle for a lot of people to appreciate. We are very lucky as Arsenal fans to have so many players with such a high level of skill.

    Great article, great comments. Except Samuel should get to say what he thinks in my opinion. Those of us who aren’t religious aren’t harmed by it surely? Any more than we’re harmed when Mesut says his prayer on the pitch. Live and let live on this one I think.

  • Tjekem

    “Why should I subdue the world if I can enchant it?” – Özil

  • OlegYch

    Well f*ck you, Tom