Why this midfielder can solve Arsenal's problems

Tomas Rosicky is the type of player the Gunners so sorely lacked for much of their 5-1 defeat to Liverpool at the weekend.

The previous murmurs of discontent have become fully-blown tangible groans when it comes to Arsenal fans' analysis of Mesut Özil, who quite simply failed to turn up when the chips were down at Anfield in his side's 5-1 defeat to an excellent Liverpool side on Saturday.

Dispossessed by Jordan Henderson, the German showed little inclination to track back and aid a defence left vulnerable by a lack of protection and a Liverpool performance which was as lethal as it was efficient.

Özil looked disinterested at various stages during his 60-minute struggle at Anfield where the first signs of a man - whose arrival supposedly heralded a new dawn at the Emirates Stadium - was struggling with the rigorous nature of Premier League football.

For £42.4million, Arsenal fans are well within their rights to question the impact of Özil at present; the German cannot solely rely on his 'assist king' status to get by and must rise to the occasion far more frequently, as he can undoubtedly do.

His contribution to an Arsenal side closer than ever to claiming a Premier League title for the first time since 2004 has been sporadic at best but when he is on form, his impact is far more telling than most in this Arsenal side.

But can Arsene Wenger persist with a player who appears in need of a break when his standards continue to slip? If not, his replacement on Saturday, a certain Tomas Rosicky, is on hand to provide a change in tune. He isn't nicknamed 'Little Mozart' for nothing.

Rosicky's performance in the North London derby win over Tottenham in the FA Cup last month is proof enough that the Czech is a man to rise for the big occasions and tomorrow's clash with Manchester United becomes a match that could shape the rest of his club's season.

A notable caveat to Özil's loss of form is the injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott, two runners from midfield who get beyond the last line of defence and constantly look to probe and penetrate.

The potential inclusion of Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can counter the two key losses with Olivier Giroud providing a physical spearhead rather than someone willing to run wide into the channels and stretch defences.

His goal against Spurs is his sole strike this season and, having not scored in the Premier League, particularly considering Cazorla and Özil have four apiece, represents a gamble on Wenger's part.

Likewise, one assist is dwarfed by the respective tallies of three and eight that the other two technicians in Arsenal's attacking midfield have to date, suggesting Rosicky is failing to produce enough in the final third.

But Rosicky, akin to the ability Ramsey offers, provides Arsenal with a short, sharp burst of pace from central areas which, especially against a struggling Manchester United midfield, could prove crucial. 

The stalwart has won 13 out of 18 contests attempted (72%), while Özil has 31 from 64 (48%) and Cazorla 30 from 57 (53%).

Clearly, there is a disparity between the trio, with Rosicky completing less than half of his contemporaries' overall minutes in the league this season, but he also excels in his passing with an 85% completion rate.

Cazorla completes 86% of his passes while Özil retains the status of pass master, fitting in with his reputation for an assist but Rosicky's efforts hardly represent a substantial downfall and his experience and turn of pace could be the difference.

On Saturday's evidence, Arsenal are faltering and Wenger should fix them...quickly. Rosicky can assuage pressure and an increasing focus on Özil's toils and place the emphasis firmly back on the Gunners' ability to last the pace in the title race. 

NameTeamPosOntarget Scoring AttShot Off TargetGoalsGoal AssistTotal ContestWon ContestTotal PassAccurate PassAppsMins
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 17 12 4 3 57 30 1,129 972 19 1,539
Mesut Özil Arsenal MF 16 3 4 8 64 31 1,316 1,158 20 1,720
Tomas Rosicky Arsenal MF 3 3 0 1 18 13 543 460 15 753

image: © wonker

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