Bayern v Arsenal match preview: should Özil play?

By Tony Attwood, still upside down in the land of Oz…

What the papers are currently saying is summed up in this comment, “Lose, and the season will end at the very best with the same top-four finish and FA Cup run that might currently delight any rival other than Chelsea but which has done so little to appease restless Arsenal fans.”

So the message is getting around – everyone else would love Arsenal’s record, it is only the aaa nutters and their Talk Sport masters who don’t.

Indeed I was also very much taken with the commentary of Minesy in response to the We need some failure article in relation to his conversation with Perry Groves about Talk Sport’s anti-Arsenal agenda, to which Mr Groves replied, “the reason they do the anti-Arsenal thing is simple, it lights up the switchboard, gets the social media overheating and therefore ticks the boxes for listening figures and advertising … other clubs don’t get that response, (if they do the same thing for Man City, no one bothers !!!)”

On the topic of Mesut however, Mr Wenger gave precious little away saying, “It’s important that we protect the second game.   We must go there, not hide, but defend well as a team.”

So the issue is, is that perfectly reasonable approach to a game achievable by having Özil in his usual role in front of a two-man defensive midfield?

Using the TalkSprout approach to football, the desperate search for something to hit at thus now takes in Özil who, according to the knockers, hasn’t scored in 2017 and has gone three games without an assist or a goal.

But just how bad is that?    If we take a look at the goals and assists this season something at once becomes clear…

Player Club Games Games Goals Assists Total
Sánchez, Alexis
25 17 8 25
Costa, Diego
22 15 5 20
Sigurdsson, Gylfi
24 8 7 15
Lallana, Adam
23 7 7 14
De Bruyne, Kevin
Man City
23 4 9 13
Eriksen, Christian
Tiny Totts
24 5 8 13
Phillips, Matt
24 4 8 12
Zaha, Wilfried
Crystal P
22 4 6 10
Özil , Mesut
22 5 5 10
21 5 5 10
Coutinho, Philippe
18 5 5 10
Sterling, Raheem
Man City
22 5 5 10

It is self-evident that Özil cannot be getting that many assists and goals, because the style Arsenal are playing is meaning that more of the chances come to Alexis. Özil is having to go looking for the less likely chances – and clearly he is finding them – otherwise we would not be the top scoring team.

Indeed if we add together the goals and assists of the top two players for the clubs that have two highly performing players in both regards we find that far from Arsenal carrying a passenger we are right at the top in terms of goals and assists pairings.

Club Total goals+assists Total club goals League pos
Arsenal 35 54 4
Chelsea 30 52 1
Liverpool 24 54 5
Man City 23 49 2

We are back in the territory of “Arsenal had only two players who scored in double figures last season.”  The comment sounds meaningful, but is meaningless unless we know what the other clubs’ figures are like.

Only four clubs have two players who are putting together significant numbers of goals and assists by two players and Arsenal are getting the best of all worlds.

Of course Mr Wenger is a perfectionist and so he did say that of late, “I felt he was not completely confident technically.  That’s a problem because you think he can deliver something special. He did things that he is not used to doing. He needs to find confidence again. He misses chances that don’t look unfeasible.”

This is not to say that Özil must play, any more than an assertion by a newspaper or a slight doubt by Mr Wenger means he should not play.   Olivier Giroud, Lucas Perez and Danny Welbeck all look good at the moment and all three were on the bench again on Saturday.

There will no such feelings toward Alexis Sánchez, who of course wants to play and will play every minute when he is fit.

Speaking of recent hiccups Mr Wenger said, “Experience helps to anticipate the problems that you face when it doesn’t work.  You know that if you do not win the confidence drops even more. That is not what is needed to go into a game like Bayern in the Champions League. I know we have not been brilliant but we had to win.”

Asked if he was enjoying his job of late he said, “You have to enjoy football. It’s true that it’s not always easy but it is important that you feel happy. What we want is to do well and qualify against Bayern Munich. It’s a good opportunity.”   And Özil has a positive history against Bayern.   Last season he scored against them – a goal that the commentators, I recall, could not believe had actually gone in, so unprepared were they for anything other than an Arsenal defeat.

As we know, Bayern Munich have to win the German league by law, and they have done so season after season.  Here’s the current run champions in 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16.  Four titles in a row, 12 in 18 years; it is the most predictable league in the world outside of Greece.  Here is the current league table…

1 Bayern Munich 7 3 0 27 5 8 1 1 18 7 33 49
2 RB Leipzig 8 1 1 19 9 5 2 3 17 11 16 42
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 6 3 0 16 7 4 2 5 9 11 7 35
4 Borussia Dortmund 6 3 0 19 5 3 4 4 21 18 17 34
5 TSG Hoffenheim 5 5 0 20 9 3 5 2 16 12 15 34

At home they are of course undefeated but they have drawn three home games: including 1-1 against Schalke at home on 4 February.

So maybe there is hope…

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25 Replies to “Bayern v Arsenal match preview: should Özil play?”

  1. Ozil’s history against Bayern at Arsenal:

    1.he won a penalty with a brilliant nutmeg of Jerome Boateng at 0:0 in the first leg of our annual meeting with Bayern in 2014 but his shot from the spot was poor and Neuer saved it; we lost 2:0;

    2.he felt his hamstring in the second minute of the second leg but didn’t ask to be substituted so he spent the next 43 minutes walking on the pitch; he was substituted and eventually missed a few games;

    3.mature performance in our 2:0 victory capped with a goal;

    4.we lost 5:1 and he was the best player on the pitch; had his goal disallowed for a handball similar to the one Southampton got away with last weekend.

    I would leave Ozil on the bench for this game but then again, Ancelotti is a different beast to Guardiola.

  2. Josif, you mad?
    in no universe would someone leave Ozil on the bench if he can stand on both legs

  3. I don’t think we need to worry about Ozil. If that volley had gone in against Hull it would have been a contender for goal of the month. If he’s dropped or benched it wont be for loss of form, but because we’re taking a more cautious approach for this away leg and will play the likes of Elneny or Ox Chamberlain instead in his spot ahead of Xhaka & Coquelin.

  4. whoever the boss picks to start its still Arsenal. we get Mirolad Mazic. No Cakir, Rizzoli, kassai. would prefer Felix Brych/ Kuipers

  5. The ref calls will be very different in the return leg…..not sure they will come back from that though

  6. I do hope that Özil plays . He is quality . Great teams are built around classy players like him. Let him probe and find the openings , while the others support him and take the chances .
    CL football is different from the national leagues , as Barca found out. In the EPL , the cloggers are valued for their ability to stop him playing his usual game . The more foul the means the better the are appreciated .
    Up the Gunners !

  7. The OX:
    “So we’ve proved enough to ourselves over the years that we’re good enough to come away with the right result, we just need to focus on how we’re going to do it and come up with the plan and then it’s all about delivering on the day and that’s going to be the difference.”

    Here ears, hear.

  8. Forgot to add:
    Özil must play as long as he is alright(injury/niggle free) and focused in training.

  9. Let’s just support whoever is on for this game, and support them win lose or draw.

  10. Elsewhere, I read that Perez has a slight hamstring problem and will not play. I hope this isn’t true. 😉

  11. Elsewhere, I read that Perez has a hamstring problem and will not play. I hope this is wrong. 😉

  12. Ozil will play if fit. Of that I’m sure.

    Regarding his form, Ozil seems to be playing much further forward this season than in previous seasons. Perhaps that accounts for the lower number of assists? The absence of Cazorla doesn’t help either.

  13. Without Santi or a typical number 8 Ozil becomes more the playmaker rather than assister, this enables him to say drop deep lay off a ball and then be in position to get his greatest goals tally for the club, but in turn a lower assist rate.

    Well that’s my take on it.

  14. I told you so, Clattenberg, check extradition rules!

    Bayern flop, equals a chance at double, without a left back and right winger no hope, he didn’t buy because we were held to randsome, good man! Patience is a virtue, Gary Neville had to come out and defend him, he wants it, like Henry.

    Sutton, 2nd string please, OZil Alexis benched. Liverppol 2 weeks off then we play last on Monday, Sky fixing schedule, Gasprom, Uefa, Chelsea. Done!

    We need to shut Mane and Coutinho, ao much for Liverpool coping without him.

    Alex, MIA against Bayern, Iwobi, baptism of fire, great for his development, you learn more from those battles you lose. Theo not selected, give him Liverpool and ask him. I want the Prems, we can go for the rest after.

    13 the magic number!

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