Unai Emery has had just over six weeks to implement his style of play and assess the squad at his disposal, and one suspects that he is not entirely happy. Forget the fact that Emery likes to play out from the back, that’s been analysed to death and picked clean like a corpse surrounded by enthusiastic vultures.
Emery is assessing his creative force and looking for an intense work rate and consistency. Ramsey, Ozil and Mkhitaryan have all been benched, not necessarily for any particular deficit, but it’s clear that the Spaniard has no time for reputations or ego’s as he tries to steer Arsenal in the right direction.
One player who continues to divide opinion is Mesut Ozil, and at the risk of traveling down a familiar path of that highlights his tendency to wander aimlessly, his negative body language and his absence in big games, let’s look at the type of player Ozil is.
He is, without question, Arsenal’s most gifted player, with the ability and vision to fashion chances out of nothing. Fans wax lyrical when the German provides a moment worthy of the admission fee or marvel at the precision pass that was threaded through a packed defence to the foot of a teammate to tap in.
Yet, everything from his style to his body language have come under scrutiny for the majority of last season and during a disastrous World Cup. Even former Arsenal greats such as Vieira, Henry and Bergkamp had games where they were unable to make a difference or influence the outcome but rose coloured spectacles seem to be compulsory for football fans to facilitate a good whinge.
No one complains when Ronaldo has a distinctly average game or Messi goes through the motions. Neymar is prone to periods where he barely peddles the bike and even Gareth Bale is no stranger to mediocrity. God forbid Mbappe should pull a stinker anytime soon, the World may end.
In this Country, in particular, we are becoming obsessed with blame, especially when things are not going well. Paul Pogba has also attracted his fair share of criticism from the pundits, press and more disturbingly, his own manager. Dele Alli has also been castigated for his attitude and inconsistency and the list goes on, an endless catalog of dissatisfaction and disapproval.
The main problem with Ozil is that he shoulders the responsibility of the team to achieve results. In all fairness, Emery should have acquired a like-minded, equally gifted player to perhaps take the strain. Arsenal couldn’t compete financially to attract that type of player because they desperately needed a keeper and defenders, so Ozil is left will the lion share of the workload and the burden.
There has also been the added turmoil of the German midfielders much-publicised retirement from International football which has been a distraction. However, it does free Ozil from the additional pressure of being analysed elsewhere and in theory, allows him to focus on the only other footballing avenue available to him. He may not always deliver, he may not be everything everyone wants him to be but he is an immense talent that needs patience amid the turmoil of Arsenal’s change in style and general transition.
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