The Arsenal star is relieved to have secured a top-four finish in the Premier League, and that’s exactly the problem.
When Arsenal took to the pitch against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, they were already assured of a top-four finish in the Premier League. Everton’s 3-2 home defeat to Manchester City on Saturday meant that even if the Gunners were to lose their final two games of the season, they would still end up fourth.
However, Arsene Wenger’s side were pumped up for the clash against the Baggies and won it comfortably by a one-goal margin, with Olivier Giroud’s 14th-minute headed goal proving to be the difference. It was a very accomplished performance from the hosts, who could have added more to their tally and certainly gave the home fans a lot to cheer about.
A number of Arsenal players took to social networking sites to express their delight at finishing fourth and for the support that the fans have given throughout the season, and one of them was a certain Mesut Ozil. This is what he posted:
The 25-year-old midfielder’s message reads as a ‘relief’ that Arsenal have finished fourth. The title chances were long gone, but there is no hint or admission of disappointment. There is the ambition of winning the FA Cup and the World Cup (with Germany), but no regret at failing to challenge for the title or apology for what has been yet another disappointing 2013-14 Premier League campaign.
And this precisely underlines why Arsenal will never be a Real Madrid. If it is a relief to finish fourth and not a disappointment to end up higher, then the Gunners will never get a mentality that clubs such as Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have; they will never be a true European giant.
Not so long ago Santi Cazorla spoke about Arsenal’s lack of “winning mentality”. Now, this is a player who has won nothing (significant) in his club career, but is desperate to clinch something. Ozil’s message just proves what the Spanish said: the Gunners do need to change their outlook.
Ozil was a star at Madrid and gave his all for three years. On a personal level, he was successful and established himself as a world-class playmaker. Yet, in the past three years Los Blancos could win La Liga and the Copa del Rey just once each. They reached the semi-finals of the Champions League three seasons in a row, but failed to progress beyond. And those three years went down as 'failure' under Jose Mourinho. That’s the mentality that a huge club have. Imagine if players at Madrid were to say that they are “safe” to finish in the top four of La Liga.
Make no mistake, Arsenal are a big club and their fan base is truly global. And whatever many might suggest, Arsene Wenger is a legendary manager. However, to establish themselves as one of the biggest in the world and compete for top honours year after year, they need to adopt a mentality in which winning is everything. Unless they do that, they will never progress.