Daily Archives: December 17, 2014
When the Gunners announced the signing of Mesut Ozil on transfer deadline day last season, many Arsenal fans took to various social networking platforms to express their sheer elation in seeing the club sign a truly world-class talent. It took the German maestro just 11 minutes to make his mark with a trademark assist to Olivier Giroud in the win against Sunderland in the Stadium of Light.
From then on, it was the Ozil show as he kept on raking in the assists with the match against Stoke being a particular highlight as he was involved in all three Arsenal goals. He also opened his goalscoring account for the club against Marseille and it could only get better. The team was doing great with Ozil at the forefront of it all. Injuries and loss of form took its toll on the German as the season progressed but his return of seven goals and 12 assists in his first season was good by his standards.
This season, Wenger changed his tactical approach with a new look 4-1-4-1 formation that was optimized to bring the best out of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. Rather unfortunately, Ozil was impacted somewhat negatively by this change because he was deployed to the left wing, a position where he’s not comfortable. With the German restricted to the flank, he has failed to influence games as much as he would have liked and his lack of defensive discipline also leaves his fullback exposed.
In the game he played in his favored No. 10 role, Ozil scored a goal and created an assist for Danny Welbeck. Many Gunners were happy to the German back to his best but in the following week, he returned to his left wing berth against Tottenham and as expected, his performance waned. After providing an assist for Alexis Sanchez in the 4-1 thrashing of Galatasaray, Ozil played in the loss to Chelsea and injured his knee and he was scheduled to be ruled out for 10 to 12 weeks.
In a recent interview with Arsenal Player, he has spoken about how he has missed playing for the team,
“After a time, you really miss playing football. “You miss the ball and just want to play. When you watch the games and think that you could have been playing, and playing well, it makes you miss it. But that’s the way things are. “I’m working every day to get myself fit and I’m on the right path now. It won’t be much too much longer before I’m back on the pitch. I hope to be back training with the whole team again as soon as possible”
In Ozil’s absence the Gunners have had their hot and cold moments but it’s worth noting that some players have stepped up their game. Alexis Sanchez has been on a phenomenal level this season and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown glimpses of his quality. Santi Cazorla is another player that has had his struggles but he’s in a rich vein of form.
So has Arsenal missed Ozil? The answer is yes!
Ozil is and remains one of the best passers in the business and his assist records speaks for themselves. According to his personal website, Ozil has amassed 157 assists in 398 games for Schalke, Bremen, Madrid, Arsenal and Germany.
In Alexis and Welbeck, Ozil has two players that are more than capable of running into space and their play will be hugely benefitted from his return. It’s also worth noting that Ozil will return to his No. 10 role when he returns with Welbeck, Cazorla and even Alexis very technically adept in playing that position.
I can’t wait Ozil to return to first team action.
So I was browsing on the official site when I came across a section of the ‘fans forum’ where they were asked to vote on how far the team could go in this season’s Champions League. As expected, everyone was more or less in alignment that the Gunners would ease past AS Monaco, even 2% of the fans still had their doubts on the team qualifying to the quarterfinals. 34% believed that the Gunners’ European adventures would end in the quarterfinal stage, 32% felt that they could at least get a semifinal berth while 30% believed that the Gunners could go all the way to the finals.
In reality, you have to ask yourself a truthful question – is Arsenal strong enough to go all the way to the Champions League final and win it? Even the most optimistic folks would cast their doubts in the Gunners achieving such a feat. C’mon, the fans were very sad to see their team finish in second place because they were mightily scared of the prospect of facing Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich but you could see the sheer elation of the fans when their team was paired with Monaco. That should paint a better picture for you.
In my honest opinion, Arsenal’s best shot of winning the Champions League was in the 2003/04 season when they were blessed with one of the best teams in Europe and that dominance was shown superbly in the Premier League but in europe, it was a familiar foe, Chelsea, that ended the Gunners run abruptly in the last eight before losing out to the eventual finalists, Monaco. Would Arsenal had fared better against the likes of Patrice Evra, Jerome Rothen, Ludovic Giuly, Dado Prso and Fernando Morientes? I definitely feel so. Even if they managed to win the principality in the semis, what were the chances of getting the better of a side that had Carlos Alberto, Deco, Vitor Baia and the enigmatic Jose Mourinho on the sidelines in the final? Question for the gods, I presume.
In the 2004/05 season, Claudio Pizzaro did the damage for Bayern that the Olympia Stadion and a Thierry Henry goal in the second leg was enough to see the Gunners progress further in the competition. The class of 06′ almost made history for Arsene Wenger, easing past FC Thun, Sparta Prague and Ajax in the group stages before sweeping past Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal in the knockout stages. On that famous night in Paris, Barcelona beat the Gunners to win the Champions League. That was the closest Arsene Wenger had been to lifting the famous big ear trophy and since then, it has been a series of near miss after near miss.
PSV surprisingly knocked the Gunners out in 07′, Liverpool did the damage in 08′, Manchester United in 09′, Barcelona in 2010 and 2011, AC Milan in 2012, and of course, the Gunners newest nemesis, Bayern Munich, inflicting pain in the Gunners in the past two seasons.
As long as juggernauts like Bayern, Barcelona and the defending champions, Real Madrid, are still in the competition, I fear the worst for my darling Arsenal. The Gunners have a team with a lot of talented individuals but they can’t match the aforementioned teams pound for pound.
But then again, that’s the funny thing about football. On the night, the Gunners can turn up the style against such illustrious opponents and it’s fair to say that in all cases, the winners are usually decided over the course of two legs and sadly, Arsene Wenger ‘s lot have been found wanting.
Let’s see how things pan out in February.