Ozil should NOT be dropped despite slump, Mertesacker says why

Per Mertesacker

Arsenal trequartista should be allowed to play his way out of his sub-par patch, rather than frozen out of the first-team, says Per.

Mesut Ozil made an immediate impact after his £42.4m acquisition from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day last summer, supplying an assist on his Arsenal debut during the Gunners' 3-1 win over Sunderland mid-September.

Since his transfer, the German playmaker has participated in 15 matches in all competitions but, if his appearances are split into two halves, he has performed noticeably better up until mid-October than he has after that date.

From the Sunderland triumph to the 4-1 victory over Norwich City, Ozil completed five Premier League matches, scored twice, never shot off-target, completed 88% of his passes and created 19 chances, however, In the domestic matches after, he was only 60% accurate with his shots, his passing precision began to suffer and he only created six chances while also contributing defensive errors.

Ozil's penalty miss in Arsenal's Champions League contest against Olympique Marseille on Tuesday did not influence the outcome of the match as his side went on to win 2-0, but it underlined how far his confidence has seemingly fallen.

There are things he does in a football game, though, that can not be demonstrated by statistics, such as his positional nous, his on-pitch intelligence particularly when occupying defensive positions and his link-up play with those around him has required no adaptation period despite effectively being the stranger in an Arsenal side that has a long-standing core.

With the reintroduction of a fit Theo Walcott to the fold and the rising form of Jack Wilshere, there were suggestions that Ozil's first-team place may be under threat unless he begins contributing as he had done when he first became a Gunner, however, his club and country team-mate Per Mertesacker believes Arsene Wenger must persist with the player.

'He has made good progress,' Mertesacker is quoted to have said by the club's official website. 'He is in good form and you can see that. Especially against Marseille he was always a threat and he never gave up after the penalty that he missed. We are very delighted with him, especially in the transition from defence to offence. He is the one who always goes deep all of the time.

'He gets himself into good positions so the goals will come for sure. He moves well between the lines so it is always difficult to defend against him. When the centre back comes out with him, there is always space for others to move into.

'He helps us create more chances. We are playing well as a team and we should continue that in the Champions League and the Premier League.'

Currently, it is unclear whether Ozil will be dropped for the weekend's game against Cardiff City, yet if he is, it may not be because Wenger has lost faith in him, but because he is simply resting the player while Walcott gets a chance to return to full match fitness.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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