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After a poor start to the season, I ponder the following question.

Is Arsenal’s Mesut Özil anything more than a fair weather player?

Mesut Ozil: A fair weather playerIf we rewind back to the Summer transfer deadline day of 2013 at 11pm, I’m sure most Gooners were ecstatic at the purchase of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Ozil was considered a vital cog in a Madrid side steeped with world class talent. 13 months on, the adopted German has been hit and miss for the North London side and this can be narrowed down to 2 reasons.

To begin with, we can scrutinise Wenger’s tactics as to whether he is playing the former Bremen man in his optimum position. Recently, he has been shunted out to the left in order to accommodate Aaron Ramsey, where he has largely been ineffective. I draw immediate comparisons with Shinji Kagawa at Manchester United, who has returned to Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund.

Arsenal and Germany midfielder Mesut OzilIt is quite evident that Ozil doesn’t look comfortable on the wing, particularly as he often seems disinterested when deployed there. A prime example was in the Champions League home tie against Bayern Munich last season. Wojciech Szczesnywas sent off, and in order to bring on a new keeper, Santi Cazorla was sacrificed. In hindsight, it looked like Ozil would have been the correct choice to replace as his inability to track back made Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal’s day a nightmare. However, what also should be noted, is that he played on the left in his early days with Werder Bremen.

On the other hand, he is getting paid £100k a week so Arsenal will expect him to play in the position Wenger wants him to. If Wenger feels that there are better players at present that play in his position then he will definitely pick them. It is up to Ozil to perform in training and when he gets the chance on the pitch, and so far he has not done that. During the Bayern game last season, Mesut Ozil’s attitude was abysmal. He looked lethargic and that he only wanted to be back in the changing rooms. Ironic for someone who says his German heritage gives him his ‘hardworking trait’. Surely this repugnant attitude is unsatisfactory for a club with the stature of Arsenal?

I’ve cherry-picked all the bad examples of when Özil has been nothing more than a liability for his team so it would be highly subjective if I were to gloss over the games in which he delivered performances that we expect of a player of his calibre. On Saturday past, Özil presented us with a first rate performance in Arsenal’s 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa. A 92% pass completion rate meant that he dominated proceedings at the Emirates Stadium. This also included 2 key passes, one of which resulted in a goal. Not only did he assist Danny Welbeck with his goal but he also buried his own chance to cap a commanding afternoon from the German.

Mesut Ozil: World Cup Winner 2014Prior to his multi-million pound move to North London, Mesut Özil was a sensation in Madrid.

While Cristiano Ronaldo often stole the headlines, it is hard for anyone to disprove the theory that he was a vital cog in Jose Mourinho’s team.

The World Cup winner excelled in the Spanish Capital regularly playing behind Gonzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema and was arguably one of their top performers when they sold him for £42.5m. He assisted a massive 67 times in 137 appearances, that’s not a bad return.

Whether you believe Mesut Özil is a big game player or not, he was simply sublime in Germany’s young and vibrant World Cup team of 2010. During the competition he helped the Germans to a 3rd place finish with 1 goal and countless assists. In addition to this he was also nominated for the Golden Ball Award. Özil aided the Germans in their World Cup triumph in July by putting in stellar performances which included a decisive goal against Algeria in the round of sixteen.

It is quite evident that some Gooners find Özil a tad frustrating at times, and who can blame them? But we all know what the German international can do, and it’s only a matter of time until he dazzles on the top club stage.

Post written by Ross Barnett
Blog: View From The Flanks, Twitter: @Barney_rb

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