Arsenal fans' U-Turn over Ozil is shortsighted

Following Arsenal’s disappointing 5-1 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday at Anfield, club record signing Mesut Ozil has been the subject of criticism from all directions.

Cast your mind back to September 22013 and new Arsenal signing for a club record fee of £42.5 million from Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil was something of the Messiah for Gunners fans. Now, it appears he’s just a very naughty boy…

A browse around Twitter following the 5-1 defeat at Anfield will tell you enough about the short-sighted and reactionary temperament of football fans. After one bad day at the office, the 25-year-old German is now being described as ‘lazy’, ‘anonymous’ and a ‘flop’ not only by mainstream journalists but by his own supporters.

Ozil’s signing, rather than the player himself, had a massive impact on Arsenal at the beginning of the season – the atmosphere around the Emirates when Arsenal lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season could be characterised as aggressive, frustrated, disillusioned and negative and his arrival changed that around in what was then a complete U-Turn at the club.

Now the tables have turned again following what was a poor performance from the playmaker in amongst a poor performance from every individual player on the pitch at Anfield and the Arsenal team as a unit. They were simply second best from the first to the last whistle.

But, it says a lot about Arsenal’s season that they can lose 5-1 to Liverpool and 6-3 to Manchester City and still be one point off the top of the table in 2nd place. They are without Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey through injury and Mathieu Flamini through suspension. They got battered at Anfield but it was just one game worth three points.

Ozil has scored five goals and made 12 assists in all competitions so far as well as contributing significantly to the Arsenal play in general. He has come to London from Madrid and joined a title fight that is closer than I’ve seen it in years in the Premier League.

Arsenal have swept aside the majority of the opposition they’ve faced in the league this term, as well as making it through their Champions League ‘group of death’, and with 13 games left to play they remain firmly in the running for their first league title in a decade.

The Premier League is a very different culture to La Liga where Ozil played alongside the likes of Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria, and Luka Modric in a league in which they are expected to win virtually every game that isn’t against Barcelona.

The style of play in the Premier League is completely oppositional to La Liga and the squad rotation at the Bernabeu makes for a slightly less fatiguing season in Spain compared to England.

There are no excuses for Arsenal’s performance last weekend – the manager and the players know that – and there can be no excuses for Ozil’s poor display as part of a team that was second best.

But, equally, I don’t think there can be any excuses for fans and journalists making reactionary and short-sighted assertions about one of the most technically gifted and coveted players in world football who happens to play for Arsenal who are one point off the top of the Premier League table.

image: © wonker

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