Ozil transferred for a club record fee to Arsenal from Real Madrid in the summer for £42.5 million and after an impressive start in the Premier League has appeared to drop in terms of his performance level and consistency, most aptly demonstrated by his part in Arsenal’s 5-1 demolition at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield last Saturday.
Stewart Robson spoke with talkSPORT to address the German international’s form but the coach who has criticised Arsene Wenger on numerous occasions in the past since leaving Arsenal, revealed his belief that Ozil is unhappy.
“I’m not sure he knows what his role is,” said Robson.
“I’ve spoken to a few German journalists who tell me the German players aren’t particularly impressed with some of the work that is being done in training and what their roles in the team are.”
Ozil is generally considered one of the best playmaking midfielder in the world and can play in the No.10 role behind the striker as well as on the flanks and in the channels.
The 25-year-old has made 29 appearances for the Gunners so far this term, scored 5 goals and made 12 assists but he split his time between the flanks, on the right especially and in a central attacking midfield role.
The absence of Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey may well have something to do with Wenger’s decision to deploy the German on the right flank where he can come inside off the wing and create chances in central areas of the final third where he is most dangerous.
The lack of width that Walcott had offered on the flank has perhaps meant Ozil, as well as the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are afforded a little less room to manoeuvre in behind the striker.
“Mesut Ozil is not quite sure whether he is playing behind the main striker, whether he is meant to go out into the wide left area, what his defensive duties are. He looks tired and, at the moment, he is not worth his place in the team,” Robson added.
It must be duly noted that Robson has been known to be overly critical of Wenger for his own personal agenda it would appear but there may be something of substance to his assertions in this particular case.
Ozil is not demonstratively defensive and certainly wasn’t on Saturday against Liverpool but perhaps the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini who is suspended has also had an impact on Ozil’s ability to forget about any defensive responsibilities and get into areas ahead where he does what he does best.
It was incidentally, a subject of contention previously with former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas who spoke candidly following his move to Barcelona in 2011 about his lack of tactical awareness at Arsenal – perhaps that is Wenger’s way of setting his team out.
We know that he likes to afford freedom to his attacking players to be creative but, if Robson is correct in his belief, Ozil could maybe use a little more specific instruction on his duties.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald