The German International has been under immense scrutiny over his performances for Arsenal this season. Many a pundit including Liverpool legend Steven Gerard who recently labelled Ozil a liability for Arsenal, especially in big games away from home. According to the retired Englishman who appears as a pundit for BT sport, Ozil “is useless out of possession and does not know how to put in a shift.”
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder has been far from his best this season more so against Liverpool at Anfield and Stoke at Bet365 stadium but Gerard saying “He just doesn’t do enough, ‘It’s clear to see that, out of possession, he doesn’t want to know. He only wants to be on the ball, trying to create, but world class players do both.” is rather a bit too harsh for a player of Ozil’s stature.
With an average of 59% possession percentage, Arsenal are one of the [if not the] most possessive clubs in England with an average pass accuracy of 84% meaning the gunners are used to enjoying the lion’s share of the ball, a style of play that Ozil is perfectly comfortable with.
But does that really imply anything?
This season alone, the gunners have created 59 chances, 15 of which have Ozil written all over them, a figure only Manchester United’s Henrikh Mhkitaryan has matched and unlike the latter’s 6, the former hasn’t registered a single assist. The German midfielder has been involved with 12 key passes in the league this term, more than any other player at this point.
While Ozil has a ridiculously eminent counter-attacking ability on the break, with a catastrophic through pass that could split defenses, the real question is, is he lazy and doesn’t run enough for the team like Gerard claims?
This season, having clocked 20.7 mph, he has covered a total 43.2km, 21.6km at home and 21.6km away – the fifth fastest for the gunners.
Of course, the number 11 could do more defensively, but for a player who has only made two defensive errors that lead to a goal since joining from the Spanish capital, averaged 0.35 clearance per game, managed an average of 0.63 interception and registered a 0.08 block per game, Ozil surely does much more than what Stevie G affirms.
Now, the gunners are poised for their third Premier League away game this season on Sunday, having already failed tests against Stoke City and to Liverpool. With a win ratio of only 19 per cent in his arsenal career against the league’s top 5 sides, it goes without saying that he remains one of the main men to help Wenger’s side avoid a third defeat in 5 games.
Importantly, football is a team sport and for the five-time German player of the year to turn up, Ozil will need his teammates to turn up.