The Arsenal player who makes the most backwards passes: Shocked?

Mesut Ozil is the player who has made more backward passes than any Arsenal player this season. Does he need to change or does he have a lack of options?

Arsene Wenger admitted his side were 'nervous' in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United, so should they take more risks?

An interesting statistic which implies they should, is connected to their playmaker Mesut Ozil being the Arsenal squad first team member who makes more backwards passes than any other player.

PlayerPosBackward PassAppsMins
Mesut Özil MF 255 21 1,810
Bacary Sagna DF 241 23 1,980
Olivier Giroud FW 222 24 2,064
Aaron Ramsey MF 179 18 1,495
Santiago Cazorla MF 156 20 1,629
Kieran Gibbs DF 149 22 1,590
Jack Wilshere MF 130 21 1,521
Mikel Arteta MF 118 19 1,354
Nacho Monreal DF 107 17 770
Tomas Rosicky MF 105 16 827

The German international was told by Arsene Wenger that he needs to score more goals, and perhaps this is an illustration of that. I

n fact for every shot he takes, Ozil makes more than 10 backwards passes, a feat topped by just Mikel Arteta when it comes to midfield and forward players.

PlayerTeamBackward Passes per Scoring Attempt
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 13.11
Mesut Özil Arsenal 10.20
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal 10.00
Tomas Rosicky Arsenal 8.08
Jack Wilshere Arsenal 6.50
Serge Gnabry Arsenal 5.40
Lukas Podolski Arsenal 4.67
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal 4.48
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsenal 4.00
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal 3.00
Olivier Giroud Arsenal 2.85
Nicklas Bendtner Arsenal 2.63
Theo Walcott Arsenal 2.15

By comparison, fellow playmaker Santi Cazorla is far more attack focused, playing just three backward passes per scoring attempt.

In fact in with just one more game played, Ozil has made almost 100 more backward passes than Cazorla, 255 to 156.

Ozil's game is based on keeping possession, and in the words of manager Arsene Wenger, wearing the opposition down. The fact he also makes more passes than any Arsenal player in the final third of the pitch is one positive to take from his game.

Yet for all the safety first element of his play, should he be focusing on making even more key passes - Ozil tops the league already in chances created, or should he take more opportunities to shoot?

Of course there is one more element to Ozil's backwards passing, and that's Olivier Giroud. 

The French international striker has been criticised for his poor movement and lack of mobility, which in turn makes it difficult for Ozil to pick out a pass if he is unsure his teammate will latch onto it.

Faced with a limited option, Ozil often finds himself constricted to passing backwards if he wants to keep possession. A much-vaunted new striker may go some way to helping Ozil out, but perhaps he needs to be a little bit more ambitious himself too. 

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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