Tag Archives: chances

The Ozil Agenda

World Cup coverage of Germany’s downfall and the continuation of the Champions Curse centred mainly on one man.

Was this just? With Loew’s team falling way short of the standard that is expected, was one man really responsible? Or was it the media having an agenda that garners the most engagement?

No domestic football means a real shortage of actual football to generate headlines, and it means that with less news, the quality of stories coming from the mainstream media is watered down a tad.

A great example of this is the lines zoning in on a certain Mesut Ozil. The player that journo’s love to write about. His lackadaisical mannerisms are manna from heaven, and it is easy to wrap stories around this, painting a picture of an entitled enigma, a player who rarely puts in a shift, and his injury woes toward the end of the season were illustrated to look like the German was taking a break rather than attempting to recover from a back injury.

At the time, a large majority of us questioned Ozil’s absence. An abrupt omission from the squad in the last few games of the season did raise some eyebrows, but his back problem was confirmed by both Arsene Wenger and Joachim Loew, and Ozil was forced to take it easy in the run up to the World Cup.

Ozil in action for Germany's ill-fated defence of the World Cup

Ozil’s recent poor form though, is now being used as a stick to beat the playmaker, and recent TV coverage of Germany’s loss to South Korea had German fans actually blaming Ozil for their country’s early exit.

Radio stations, newspapers, websites, all have shone the light of blame on Ozil, his petulant behaviour and failure to exert his influence on proceedings are the sack that has been flung over Ozil and used to chuck him out to sea.

The thing is though, is that Ozil performed his job against South Korea, and he did it very well.

One key stat is the purest evidence of this, and one that was hidden from the majority, for fear of destroying the shroud of blame that currently hangs over Ozil.

The German number 10 is the creator, he is on the pitch to make chances.

Well, he made more chances in the loss versus South Korea, than any player in the entire World Cup had made so far.

That’s right. The underperforming, misfiring misfit that is Ozil, hung out to dry by all and sundry, made more opportunities for his team than any player at the entire tournament had made in total.

Yet Ozil was the reason Germany limped out.

Every piece of visual coverage that looked at Germany’s losses to both Mexico and South Korea went predominantly with an image of a tired-looking Ozil. His image attached to the misfortunes of his national side.

Forget Mats Hummels, who seemed to forget he was a defender in all 3 games. Forget Manuel Neuer, who has only just returned from serious injury and his insistence on playing in midfield cost Germany their second goal.

Forget about Khedira, Boateng, Timo Werner, Mario Gomez. These players were severely under-par, and yet not one finger points at them and demands they face the baying mobs.

No, because their face doesn’t fit the agenda. Mesut Ozil bashing gets headlines, clicks, calls on the radio show. When Ozil gets lambasted, then engagement levels go up.

It can be the only reason for it, given Ozil performed way above what he was given scant credit for.

Then there was the reports that Ozil suffered racial abuse from his own fans. From World Cup hero and Germany’s Player of the Year on many occasions, to derided zero, now not worth an iota of support.

It’s hard to think of another player right now that suffers in the same way. Is this targeting of Mesut simply down to his lack of emotion? If so, there are other players who come across like an automaton on the pitch and in interviews, yet they don’t suffer in the same way. Is it his effortless style? Because his neck veins don’t rise to the surface while straining every sinew?

The naysayers point out the 2-1 win over Sweden when Ozil was dropped. They say that this shows that Joachim Low was carrying Ozil, and as soon as the number 10 came back into the side, they lost again.

Well, anyone who watched Germany versus South Korea could testify that Ozil wasn’t to blame.

The whole team were utterly abject.

So, as Gooners, retain some common sense. We should be glad Ozil will at least now get some rest before what is sure to be a huge season for Arsenal. We should back our man. He could do with the support. Who knows, it could just pay off.

Reiss Nelson Has A Decision To Make

As a youngster breaking through into a Premier League first team squad, the odds are stacked.

Reiss Nelson is amongst a few Gunners kids who’ve made the transition from successful Under-23 prodigy to useful squad member for the first team – but now Nelson has a decision to make, with his current contract entering its final throes.

And it’s one that will decide how his career pans out – the skeletal remains of previous blossoming talents serve as the most potent reminders.

Reiss Nelson has seen plenty of action in the Europa League so far, and has made his bow in the Premier League and domestic cup competitions this season. His exciting displays and swashbuckling style have drawn admiration from fans, who mostly believe him to have a glittering future ahead of him.

Will it be in an Arsenal shirt though?

If he continues his current trajectory, then he will become an increasingly relevant player in our side. It’s a big if, but on what we’ve seen, he definitely has a place in first team plans in years to come.

With youth comes impatience however, and there are some glaring pieces of evidence that the grass may well be greener elsewhere – in the form of Marcus McGuane and Chris Willock.

McGuane became the first Englishman to play for Barcelona’s first team in recent years, with his substitute appearance in the Catalan’s Supercopa de Catalunya final. McGuane actually made his first team debut for Arsenal ironically as a sub for Reiss Nelson in our 4-2 win over BATE Borisov, but McGuane was drawn to the potential of a big move, and is doing well for Barca’s B side.

Then there is Chris Willock, brother of our midfielder Jo. The gifted winger opted for Benfica rather than bide his time at Arsenal. His first season in Portugal has been strictly for Benfica’s B side, and options to move back to England on loan were turned down.

Could the lure of early stardom bring about an end to Nelson’s tenure at Arsenal?

So many kids have come and gone through the revolving door at our club, but not many have had the talent that Reiss does. His star is a rising one, but a move to a club that stunts his development with a lack of playing time would shrink hsi potential, setting a well-worn path that many youngsters tread – that of a journeyman swilling around the lower reaches of professional football.

Nelson also needs to have assurances from our club that his first team chances are as healthy as ever, and he will get windows of opportunity. He also needs to play more than he did this season.

So, Nelson is at a crossroads. He can look at Ainslie Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere to see what could happen for his career, should he continue to knuckle down and concentrate on his football.

Or he could opt for sunnier climes, but with a far steeper incline for success. The light at the end of the tunnel may well be brighter, but in the dark it’s hard to tell whether the tunnel is longer or not.

Reiss Nelson has a decision to make.

What would you do?

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.

The Squandering Of Mesut Ozil

Some question the power of statistics.

In cult 80’s movie ‘Gregory’s Girl,’ the main protagonist in the movie states that, “numbers make the world go round.” The guy has a point. Whilst stats can be skewed to fit around an agenda if the need arises, there are certain facts that cannot be denied.

One of them is this:  Mesut Ozil has created more chances this season than any other player in Premier League history. Yet he still remains three short of the assist record.

Continue reading The Squandering Of Mesut Ozil

Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal – Missed Chances Make The Difference – Champions League Report

Barcelona progressed after this second leg victory, in an almost carbon copy of the first leg as valiant Arsenal created enough chances to make a fist of it, but ultimately the gulf in class up front swung it for the reigning European Champions.

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What a difference in display from the Gunners though – a complete departure from recent matches.

Continue reading Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal – Missed Chances Make The Difference – Champions League Report

The Premiership Quarterly Report

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The Premier League began in 1992. Since its formation, only five sides can boast of holding aloft the League trophy. This would suggest that the Premiership is formulaic, merely a ceremony each week before the big teams are victorious and claim three points repeatedly.

Nothing could be further from the truth. From the teams chasing the title to the clubs who came up from the Championship last term – every team goes into each game with at least a glimmer of hope. The Premier League retains its reputation as the most exciting in Europe for this very reason.

Continue reading The Premiership Quarterly Report

Arsenal Vs Bayern Match Review – A Night To Remember. 

The negativity surrounding Arsenal’s Champions League campaign is understandable. Two defeats from two matches is enough for fans to be reaching for the white flag – but when the opposition is of the calibre of Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos – then it could be justified for Gooners to consign this seasons European to simply hoping that Arsenal don’t finish third and therefore drop into the Europa League.

A 2-0 win was as far removed from what was expected and to a man, the Arsenal team played their roles perfectly and breathed new life into their Champions League campaign with a victory that will be remembered for quite some time, especially given the calibre of the opponent.

Continue reading Arsenal Vs Bayern Match Review – A Night To Remember.