In Defence Of Mesut Ozil & Proof He Wasn’t ‘Lazy’ Against Monaco

By on February 26, 2015

It was certainly a game to forget for Arsenal against Monaco last night. We made the same routine defensive mistakes that we’ve witnessed time and time again on the big stage and we failed to take our chances.

The whole team under-performed and let the manager, the fans and themselves down. However, one player has once again been singled out for criticism by so-called pundits and even our own fans; Mesut Ozil.

Somehow Ozil has been made the scapegoat for last nights shambles. I’ve read headlines in newspapers including the Telegraph and Daily Mail hammering the German for ‘going missing’ and putting in a ‘lazy’ shift, while fans have taken to comments sections, blogs and social media to lambaste the former Real Madrid playmaker.

Let me make this perfectly clear, Ozil had a very poor game last night and was WELL below the standard’s we’d expect from him, but I’m getting bored of the same cliche lines being thrown at him after every Arsenal defeat.

Any time we lose, it’s ‘Lazy Ozil fails to turn up‘, when the stats tell a very different story. Mesut actually covered more ground that ANY other Arsenal player last night and was third behind only Moutinho and Dirar overall.

This notion that Ozil just stands still for 90 minutes and doesn’t put a shift in is ludicrous. He’s constantly moving off the ball, trying to create space for himself and his team mates. You won’t always see it on TV, but he’s does it, and the fact he’s consistently among the top players for distance covered per game proves it.

According to WhoScored, Ozil also had 81 touches last night. Second only to Santi Cazorla, who had 96. Hardly the stat of a man who ‘went missing’. Danny Welbeck had just 27 touches during the entire 90 minutes. Where were the headlines saying he ‘went missing’?

The fact is, Ozil has a poor game. His passing percentage was way below his usual standard and he had no real influence in the final third. But criticise him as part of the collective, don’t single him out after every defeat.

In case you didn’t know, Ozil wasn’t the only one who played poorly last night. Mertesacker had an absolute nightmare and was arguably at fault for all three goals. Same goes for Ospina. Koscielny was poor for two of the goals. Both full-backs showed their naivety by bombing forward again. And then of course there is Giroud who missed at least four clear goal-scoring opportunities.

The defence cost us at the back, Giroud’s misses cost us at the other end, but who do the newspapers single out? Ozil. Why? Because he cost £42m and it’s far too easy to blame the guy who cost the most.

Sure we expect a lot for our investment but lets not forget that when we play well, Ozil is more often than not right at the heart of everything that’s positive. The papers, and fans, are so quick to forget that Ozil has actually been in excellent form since returning from injury. But when we play well, they don’t praise him, they just wait for us to slip up then get the knives out with the boring ‘lazy’ cliches.

Ozil has a very unique style of play. He’s never going to be one to throw himself in to tackles or do the dirty work when things aren’t going our way. He’s a luxury player who, on his day, is one of the best playmakers in the world. He drifts around the pitch looking for openings and keeping the ball moving. He’s a facilitator. He’s the oil in a well worked engine. When it works and we’re on form, he’s sublime.

The problem is, when Arsenal (as a whole) have an off day, he becomes the easy target for criticism due to his hefty price-tag and laid-back style of play, and I fear that it’s never going change as long as he’s an Arsenal player.

No doubt the knives will be out in the comments section. After-all, #ThereWillBeHaters