The real reason Mesut Ozil is struggling for form: Not tiredness

Aaron Ramsey

Mesut Ozil's dip in form coincides with Aaron Ramsey's injury absence. That's surely not a coincidence.

Mesut Ozil's performances of late have been criticised far and wide. Reports in Spain said Arsenal played with 'nine men' against Bayern, while in his homeland he was described as a 'tragic figure.'

Yet could it all have been so different? While another key man returning would not have stopped him missing a penalty, he could just have made Ozil's life a lot easier as of late.

We are talking about Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal's star midfielder who was a strong candidate for Premier League Player of the Year honours before a two-month injury curtailed the plaudits.

Michael Ballack and Jens Lehmann both argued in the week that Ozil's form has suffered because he was tired, and he had no Winter break which he was accustomed to on the continent. 

Yet an injury break and short trip to Morocco meant Ozil had 18 days without starting a game in December/January, hinting that not only are the ex-professionals wrong, but there may be an alternate reason the German is not at his peak.

Ramsey had been superb this season, Arsenal's driving force from midfield. He was the club's top scorer heading into December, while had won more tackles than any other Gunner. 

Ramsey won consecutive Arsenal Player of the Month awards, and routinely covered more ground per game than any of his teammates, or opponents.

Not only is he evidence to Ozil that poor form, as he illustrated at the start of last season, can be turned around- but he can actually play a key role in the German getting back to his best.

With Ramsey in the team, Arsenal have more attacking threat via the Welshman's driving runs forward. This not only opens up more space for other players, but it provides more options for Ozil to play his passes to and carve teams open.

Ramsey's ability to win the ball back was key to Ozil, giving him more possession and helping Arsenal to wear down opponents.

The time Ramsey got injured coincides with when Ozil's form began to drop off. That surely is not a coincidence. Statistics show that not only have Ozil's goals and assists dropped off without Ramsey, but so have his goal attempts and key passes.

Arsenal lack the same driving force and goalscoring threat from central midfield without Ramsey, and the German has to work harder with players less dynamic behind him to make things happen. It's no slight on Ramsey's replacements, simply that the Welsh midfielder was in a class of his own before injury.

The hope is that Ramsey will be back for the title run-in from mid-March. This won't only be great news for Arsene Wenger, but Mesut Ozil will likely be counting down the days too.

image: © joncandy

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