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The Ozil / Emery Dilemma

How far does a manager go to instill his values and rules upon his squad?

The parameters that the man at the helm puts in place will ultimately define the team, but what happens if one stray sheep doesn’t conform, and strays from the herd?

In an effort to stymie attempts from other players to follow suit,  does the manager lay down the law in the form of punishment, to show that the rules must be followed?

Unai Emery is in between a rock and a hard place. It has become apparent through comments made by the Spaniard that Mesut Ozil has not met the desired standard in the training regimen that has been set.

The result?

The German has been omitted from the entire squad for around two months of the season.

Even if you are not a fan, it is plain to see that our fortunes on the pitch in terms of style, have been severely hampered by the lack of a playmaker.

Chances have dried up, the pace of the ball being pinged around? Pedestrian. Our star strikers have been feeding off of scraps or creating openings themselves through their excellent set of skills.

The moment that Ozil was reinstated to the line-up was our Carabao Cup exit to Liverpool – and we scored five goals.

Yes, Liverpool were a weakened side, but the form we were in during that spell would have meant that if Ozil wasn’t in the eleven, we would surely have struggled to reach that amount of goals.

Our number ten kept the ball moving, stretching play, popping up in pockets of space and sprinkling in moments of genius, like his no-look backheel from the byline to the only player who could have received the ball.

This isn’t meant to indicate that Emery has made the wrong choice though. The words in this article are pointing towards a choice that Emery couldn’t possibly hope to pick the correct one – because there isn’t a right choice.

Ozil and Emery

Include Mesut Ozil in the side – and player power has won.

Leave him out of the side, and at the merest hint of a struggle, critics will point to the megastar left out of the side.

Emery had a power struggle in his time as PSG manager, as Neymar has a little more sway than a player normally would. The Brazilian is seen as indispensable to the eleven – or was – and there was only going to be one winner.

Now, we have arguably our most talented player flitting in and out of the side, and posting cryptic images on his Instagram in an apparent act of defiance. It leaves the unity of the squad frayed – and our performances compromised.

Mesut Ozil will obviously impact our team on the pitch. His end product went missing last year but in terms of keeping us on the front foot and always playing the right pass, there is no one better.

Star players shouldn’t have things their own way though. If we put them on a higher pedestal, it means they will define the rules, and the values of the club will be broken as a result.

No one player is greater than the team. We have had far greater players in our midst than Ozil and they have never rocked the boat – even if they did, the rock-solid rules of the club would not show a crack.

The moment this changes, then Arsenal FC as we know it, and have known it since its birth – will be completely undermined.

The solution to the Ozil – Emery predicament?

I’ve no idea – I don’t get paid millions to figure it out!

 

Kolasinac Deserves the Spotlight

Unai Emery has brought with him many changes since he was drafted in to herald in the post- Wenger era.

 

Many of them were not his choice. Backroom staff such as Raul Sanllehi were brought in slightly beforehand but are very much part of the new dynasty that Emery is meant to hone into success.

 

Others are very much stamped with the Spaniard’s touch. Matteo Guendouzi is part of the new breed for Arsenal, but some of the existing players have transitioned to the new methods far better than others too.

 

One of those is Sead Kolasinac.

 

The burly Bosnian has been the stampeding horse on our left hand side, so often providing the outlet our play needs when we are stemmed in the final third. Kolasinac has also been perfectly placed for Emery’s experiments with the wing-back system – five technically at the back, with the left and right backs flying forward to also provide the width sorely needed by our team.

 

It requires excellent stamina and the decision making that allows the player to gauge when to fly forward and when to sit back.

 

The stamina has never been in question, but the ability to judge when to assist his attacking brethren is sometimes lacking.

 

On more than one occasion we have seen a gaping maw on our left hand side that has been vacated by yet another Kolasinac rampage. The truth is though, that unless we have a full-back that is of the ilk of Bixente Lizarazu, Maldini and our legends of Dixon and Winterburn, we will never truly eradicate ourselves of that occasional weakness on the flank.

 

Mistakes will be made, no player is infallible. Kolasinac though, has at the very least, truly optimised his exertions in the final third.

 

Sead+Kolasinac+Alex+Iwobi+Arsenal+Training+cSbi_GK_tKrl

 

His unstoppable runs to the byline have seen him create more chances this season than any other Arsenal player. That is quite some feat with the creative talents on show at the club. The next best player in terms of opportunities made?

 

Another vilified player in Alex Iwobi.

 

Both have combined well and offered something different. True, both have their failings, but they are at least justifying their spots in the side.Iwobi is enjoying his best ever season in terms of return – at the time of writing he has four goals and six assists – yet both do not enjoy the favouritism that some players enjoy. The adulation never quite reaches them, but take them away and what do we have?

 

A team completely devoid of thrust, instead choosing to pass sideways. Like it or not, our left side has been predominant in terms of where our goals come from.

 

Kolasinac especially, has done himself proud whenever he has donned the shirt this season. Compare this to last season when he was very much a fringe player, lurking in the shadows created by the reliable Nacho Monreal.

 

This campaign has seen the player that terrorised the Bundesliga come to roost at the Premiership, and we are benefitting from it. The Bosnian is one of our dangermen – and we should recognise how good he has been, rather than choose to focus on the one mistake he makes every two or three games – which is far fewer than most.

 

Kolasinac has been fantastic, and long may it continue.

 

The Enigma of Iwobi

Seeing a youngster rise up through the ranks to become a fully-fledged member of the first team squad is a source of pride for fans.

Knowing these starlets have been through every part of the club’s setup means they are steeped in the culture of the club – they are almost the same as me and you – aside from being blessed with a football at their feet.

Alex Iwobi is one of these players. He has been at Arsenal since a single-figure age, His debut in the first team was an ugly one – the humiliating 3-0 humbling at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. Much like Hector Bellerin in that respect – the Spaniard also had a baptism of fire in a 2-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund – Iwobi didn’t let his first taste of the first team sway his resolve.

His rise to prominence as a viable squad member was deserved. He can ghost past players with a swift drop of the shoulder, his ball control can be exquisite and whether we choose to ignore it or not, his final ball is very often the right one and an exhibit of great vision.

I mention ignorance, as this season he has been the subject of vitriol from a portion of Gooners. The comments I’ve witnessed on social media question his inclusion or addition from the bench on every occasion. Iwobi has obviously failed to convince some fans of his worthiness of a squad place.

Is it deserved? Not on this level. Players are in the spotlight and represent something very dear to us all. So if they fail to put in a good shift for the crest, then they are open to criticism.

There is criticism though, and then there is downright negative bias.

Aaron Ramsey gets the same sort of treatment, albeit on a weaker level. It would appear as if Iwobi needs to register a goal or assist in every game in order to sate his detractors, but that isn’t going to happen. His style of play lends itself to involvement in the earlier stage of a build-up as much as it does at the business end.

So, are his stats that bad?

Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka suffers from this to a degree. Xhaka is quite clearly not a defensive sentry, but his weaknesses in tracking runners is detracting from his Premier League-leading passing stats and excellent distribution both long and short. Because he isn’t what many of us thought he should be, that means he’s been tagged as an underperformer, which is simply unfair.

That isn’t to say Ramsey, Xhaka and Iwobi don’t have their faults. Criticism is just as fair as praise. Ramsey too often focuses on attack and leaves his defensive duties like a spoiled kid leaves his vegetables on the plate. Xhaka needs to concentrate more, and Iwobi needs to make the right decision more often, as well as perhaps concentrate on footballing matters a little more.

In a comparison matrix with Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling and former Gunner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi shines quite brightly – especially when you consider how the team he is playing for is struggling in comparison.

Iwobi has created the second most amount of chances, The second most amount of forward passes and has the highest possession score out of all the participants in the comparison.

Not bad for a player who is viewed by some as nowhere near good enough to wear the jersey.

With our team falling way below the standards expected, the time we used to employ to blood a player in our tactics is far shorter than it was. We have far less patience and we want things immediately, rather than use a modicum of common sense and remember that a young player learns from his errors and needs to make them to progress.

Plus, the comparison above shows that Iwobi isn’t underperforming at all – he is in fact outperforming some players who are judged to be better players than he is. Another startling fact that may illuminate how good Iwobi actually is – he achieved those stats playing in far less games than his opponents. Iwobi has played in 17 games, Lingard 22, Sterling 25 and Oxlade-Chamberlain 23.

So, to surmise, Iwobi deserves his place amongst our leading lights, and he also deserves a bit of expectational pressure. If this is him underperforming, then just imagine when he actually hits a patch of form…

Comparison stats correct at the time of writing.

Ozil criticism unfair – and here is the proof

Mesut Ozil marginalises every group of football fan. There hasn’t been a wider spectrum of thought on a player since Nicklas Bendtner’s own views and everyone else’s.

Ozil continues to generate headlines and it would seem that a mere mention of his name garners response levels sufficient to sate even the most demanding of editor. A large portion of what is written and said is of course clickbait – but there is no smoke without fire – right?


Mesut’s languid body language is like catnip to those who lambast the playmaker continuously. Head dipped, refusal to fluster and his lesser-heard raised voice contrasts to the blood and thunder that is demanded from many.


It makes you a winner. Veins popping, whites of the eyes dappled with burst blood vessels, clenched fists aplenty. These are classic signs of a winner, and Mesut Ozil is a stranger to these.


Ozil IS a winner though. He knows better than anyone it is what you do on the pitch that makes the difference, and he concerts all of his effort into enabling his team.


The consensus will probably continue to haunt Ozil simply because he is rarely seen roaring at teammates and plunging into rash tackles.


There is an agenda against our number 11, and one fact highlights this better than any words I can type.








After ten games in the Premier League, Manchester City sat top of the league and with breathing space between them and the chasing pack. They had +29 goal difference, and they made their best start to a Premier League season in their history. Nine wins and one solitary draw.


A lot of the plaudits were doled out to Kevin De Bruyne. The ginger genius had laid on chances with high frequency and teammates, his manager and pundits were gushing at the mention of the Belgian’s name.


Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil had been battered from pillar to post by most.  A portion of Gooners, journalists and experts wanted more from him.


Arsenal were in 5th spot, and had six wins, one draw and three defeats from their ten games, with a +6 goal difference. A large disparity between City’s record and Arsenal’s. City had DeBruyne firing on all cylinders and had been backed to become one of the world’s best players on the back of his performances – and Ozil had been heckled.


Yet, both had created exactly the same amount of chances – both were top of the rankings in terms of chances set up.









Ozil and DeBruyne had crafted 30 clearcut chances for their teammates in ten games. Three each game.


So how can Ozil be panned as a waste of a player in a team, and DeBruyne hailed as a marvel – perhaps the best in the League?


They are both players in the team to do a job. The same job. From the numbers, it appears as if both are doing it better than anyone else in the Premiership. Yet Ozil continues to be ridiculed for failing his team, and DeBruyne is the exact opposite.


These numbers show that Ozil is every bit as good as most of us Gooners know he is. We have dispelled the myth that he is lazy before – he covers more ground than most – and now we can put to bed the notion that he makes no chances.


What will we have to put right next? Mesut Ozil is a fantastic player. He starts moves from deep and keeps his presence in the intricate passing throughout. He is always on the ball.



Hopefully this article will get an airing and some of the more obtuse Ozil-bashers can admit that they were wrong.

Mesut Ozil – An Endangered Species.

The constant comparisons, documentaries and mentions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are understandable, if a little grating.

Both players have graced the world stage with their inimitable presences, and have obliterated records with each season that passes. Driven by their own standards – and a little competition from each other – they have deservedly been labelled as the finest of our generation.

It is their goals though, that have seen them placed atop pedestals so high. Each campaign has seen them both plunder 40,50 goals and it is these numbers, in our stat-fuelled game as it stands today, that has allowed them to break off from their rivals and see them placed in their own unique category.

Some players specialise in goals. Some have their specialist subject in destroying midfielders. Others are adept at stemming wave after wave of attacks. 

Then there is Mesut Ozil.

If the German were to be part of a survey, he would not fit any previous mould. He would be found in the box marked ‘other.’

In todays game, our number 11 cannot be compared to any other player. He is crudely categorised as a playmaker, but anyone who has seen him play will realise he is much more than just our own Golden Hen, forcing out assist after assist. 

He is a mercurial ninja, floating between dimensions. Seeking only the right moment to strike, his singular motivation is to ensure he allows his team the best chance to ensure damage to the opposition. 

If the ball gravitates toward him in a deep position, then even a simple ten yard pass will have gone through his own mental collander, ruling out all other options and making sure it is the most efficient choice. 

Every decision he makes, when you take a retrospective look at his performance, is normally the correct one. All of these mental gymnastics his brain performs is done in a sliver of time that most would find difficult to comprehend. Only a small pocket of players are capable of utilising this skill on the pitch, but they still lack the other weapons at Ozil’s disposal.

As a ninja, Ozil’s quick thinking and vision are his katana – his go-to weapon. His sidearm though, is his awareness. The very same awareness that the great Dennis Bergkamp possessed. It allows Ozil to know where his teammates are, and find them no matter where they are. His technical ability means that if they are 50-60 yards away, he will still be able to produce a ball so perfectly weighted, that it will find its intended target even if they are on the run, allowing them to take possession easily.

Nothing is left to chance. What really sets our German apart though, is the effortless nature in which he performs such tasks. His roll of the body to outwit N’Golo Kante in our 3-0 demolition of Chelsea to start the move for the 3rd goal – which he duly scored – looked so easy and smooth that it looked like anyone could have done it.

He has the Karate Kid factor. We all saw the films, with Danny LaRusso being taught to paint fences and wax cars in a roundabout method of capturing the movement required for basic karate moves, but at the end of each film – didn’t we all try the crane kick? Didn’t we all think we could be karate champion? 

When we watch Ozil, it is the same. Everything he does looks so simple, but trying to recreate such things as a lowly human is nigh-on impossible. Ozil hails from a different plain, one that isn’t exactly overpopulated.

David Silva, Kevin DeBruyne, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Christian Eriksen and Cesc Fabregas are regularly stood next to Ozil and their numbers are studied and scrutinised in an effort to find a parallel with our quietly spoken genius. 

They may have the vision of Ozil. Some may even have his work rate. A few may yet possess his touch. None of them though, have his nonchalant manner in performing the ridiculously difficult. None have the ability to begin moves from any position, even when playing below par. 

Ozil is an instigator. His mind is a constant whirring chess simulation, twisting the board to all angles in an attempt to see a chink in the enemies armour. To find the smallest gap to slide his blade into, thus causing damage on a massive scale.

That is why Mesut Ozil is unique. Held up against the players who are always compared to him, he stands above them, as he cannot be merely labelled.

He is a diamond of many facets, each one allowing the other to shine brighter. 

He is unique, and we should enjoy every minute he wears our crest. 

Mesut Ozil is an endangered species, but hopefully his presence in training will allow others to glean enough to ensure and maintain a continuation of his kind.