The Curious Case of Mesut Ozil – Why the under appreciated genius?

An under appreciated Genius on our shores

An under appreciated Genius on our shores

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has attracted plenty of harsh criticism for going missing in games, and has even found himself under attack for being in a 16-year-old’s pocket after his poor performance in the opening day defeat against West Ham. The condemnations of Germany’s World Cup winner are odd, given how highly thought-of Ozil is by those within the game.

“Özil is unique,” said Jose Mourinho, “there is no copy of him – not even a bad one. He is the best number 10 in the world.” (Apologies for the positive Jose reference on this site. It won’t happen often – Editor.)

When Mesut Ozil was playing his trade with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and co at Real Madrid, he was one of the most decorated players in world football. In Germany, he was practically a demigod. The roar which greeted him when he signed for Arsenal was deafening. It was a cathartic blast of noise which no new signing had experienced for many years.

However, this was all to change after he moved to England. Mesut Ozil stopped being appreciated.

No doubt, Arsenal fans have always admired the German’s qualities even when he was savaged by the English press. Everyone knows full well that the English media savage many players and lambaste their every move. But this agenda on Ozil was something different, something personal. He wasn’t overrated which is a common charge that is levelled at many players who move from another league but he was a lazy, careless and petulant individual.

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It was all nonsense. His first season at Arsenal was statistically better than David Silva’s first season at Manchester City. He ran more than people said, made more key passes than they let on, and dished out assists without having a formidable forward in front of him.

Opposing fans and pundits insist that in order for Ozil to be one of the best in his position, he must do what a fictional Lionel Messi does: dribble past everyone, score numerous goals, have the work ethic of a Lee Cattermole and win everything. Clearly, this cannot happen. You would be silly to think otherwise. Ozil remains one of the most exciting, accomplished and misunderstood players in European football.

With Ozil in the team, Arsenal’s attacking play becomes truly succinct. Most football fans know that short passing can only penetrate a defence when it’s done at pace and with momentum. Ozil is one of the best in the world at doing this. Ozil plays the game at his pace. He influences the speed by which Arsenal create most of their attacking opportunities. He’s a chess master.

In a Premier League culture which thrives on hard hitting tackles and work ethic, Ozil is an easy target to criticise when Arsenal perform badly. It’s inevitable that he will be one of the first players to get blamed after a bad performance due to his stoic mask of seeming disinterest within the game around him. That said Ozil covered more ground than any of his Arsenal team mates last season. Lazy? I beg to differ.

Appreciated by the world’s finest

During his time at Real Madrid, Ozil established a good relationship with Jose Mourinho. Mourinho would usually take Ozil off after around 60-70 minutes during a game, due to his energy levels dropping. At Arsenal, Wenger knows that Ozil is vital even when he’s physically not at his best. At times, when Arsenal have needed a goal we have seen players like Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere etc lose their heads and not think intelligently to how they are playing and what’s the right pass to make. Ozil is different. He thinks the whole process through even when times ticking.


Too Risky


Ozil sees


As Arsenal pushed in the closing moments against Monaco in the Champions League, they looked to breakthrough a disciplined defence. The ball kept falling to Ozil’s feet and he was still able to create openings from nowhere. His brilliant pass started the move which Arsenal scored from. In short, it looks like the German is not there, even when he’s dictating the play. That’s the sign of an intelligent footballer.

The subtle German does more than meets the eye. His understanding with his fellow team mates is a sight to see. Olivier Giroud may not be in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo, however by having a player of Ozil’s calibre behind him; it allows the Frenchman to play short, technical football. Other than Giroud, Aaron Ramsey has understood Ozil’s game with good effect as the Welshman continues to make forward runs and grab crucial goals as he knows Ozil will find him. Arsenal players are aware that if anyone holds the solution, it is Ozil.

Always appreciated by Giroud, Ramsey and his team mates

The German World Cup winner put in a sensational performance in Arsenal’s victory against Crystal Palace as he quietened his doubters. The German conductor was at his best as he barely put a foot wrong with some delightful passing. Ozil continuously manipulated the Palace defenders and provided a constant attacking threat with his incredible vision and ability to pick the right pass. Misplacing one of 55 passes in a game is no easy feat but to a player like Ozil it seems an easy task.

Mesut Özil’s game by numbers:

98% pass accuracy

10 crosses

5 chances created

1 assist

Near Perfection v Palace

Near Perfection v Palace


Ozil may not have the leadership qualities like the Charlie Adam’s of this world but he’s a rare breed of speciality within the Premier League. Ozil is simply Ozil, an individual who plays football at the highest quality.

So let’s enjoy him.

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7 Responses to The Curious Case of Mesut Ozil – Why the under appreciated genius?

  1. davi August 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    I saw a stark image recently where someone was assessing Mario Gotze as a potential signing and put up some stats including chances created. It’s amazing when you see just how many chances Ozil (and Cazorla) create even compared with justifiably lauded players like Gotze. I think there were 3 bayern players in the comparison and the combined chances created by Santi and Ozil was almost double that of those 3 players across a similar number of games. Incredible really but does beg the question, why are we not doing better?
    Anyway, totally agree with the post, he is a quality player and terribly underappreciated in this country. I do think his effectiveness has been increased significantly since his injury during the first season, where he clearly worked hard on increasing his physical strength which I think has allowed him to hold onto the ball in tough situations more easily, it’s still his passing ability that is his main strength of course, but this allows him to play the game at his own pace, as you point out.

  2. G August 19, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    He is a great attacking player. He was savaged because when he did have a bad game it involved being dispossessed a lot, misplacing simple passes and generally leaving us in danger. It happened A LOT.

    Granted, it doesn’t happen so much now. But you’d rather have a player who creates a few fewer chances and then doesn’t gift chances to the other team than the opposite. And people need to stop quoting the ground-covered stat. He runs a lot.. who cares? If you put me in the Arsenal team I’d run around as much as you like.

    nb: Ozil was better last year than the year before which is why he got less stick. Notwithstanding that, in the league last year David Silva scored twice as many goals per 90mins, created almost same amount of chances per 90mins, had more successful take-ons, 25% more interceptions and more clearances. Incidentally I think Silva was about half the price.

    • ab August 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      even Carzola playing there before ozil had better stat and importantly influenced big games.
      didnt even read this blog… people justify ozil by running, passes apparently no other player would have seen, chances etc..
      But all I ask to you is if he is so brilliant why is he invisible in big/ tough matches when whole team is struggling, why then he cant make simplest of passes, instead why doesnt he take the ball and “kill” the opposition with his vision and pass?

      he is not underrated but highly overrated, so much so that management institues should him as case study for public image building.

      And also he was by no means unpopular in british media when he came infact hugely popular because of again overstated role in Eng 4-0 loss to Germany. Its only after seeing him regularly and his wizardy he has been criticised.

      • Umar August 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

        Ozil is Ozil… No denying he’s had some poor games but by no means has he gone missing in big games… His performance against villa in the final was superb. Alongside Liverpool at home, Utd away in the cup etc. Him not going in for tackles etc does not mean he’s ‘missing’, when he was out for a long period of time, we struggled to break through teams. He’s like marmite, you may like it or you may not

  3. Tim August 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    When are we just gonna call a spade a spade? Ozil is not the player we thought we were getting. I for one was an absolutely huge fan of his before he came. He was a world superstar entering his prime.

    What Ozil has shown us so far is that he is a moody player, one who’s body language was so abysmal when he arrived that he actually had to be told to cheer up. The fact that Germany won the world cup with him in the side speaks volumes about how good they were because during that stretch I can honestly say I was embarrassed we had pirchased him. He was so disinterested and lethargic.

    What I see of him now is a supremely talented player. One of the best passers in the game but also over relient on passing. He really isn’t a threat to score. I still don’t like how he handles himself. His body language is so poor especially towards teammates and that kind of stuff is moral sucking. As a gooner with a lot of faith I do hope and pray he improves but part of me doesn’t believe he has the desire.
    He isn’t what we thought we were getting. He isn’t what the media portray. He isn’t what this article and many other suggest of this god like superstar. He lies somewhere in the middle and his career for me could go either way.

  4. Alex August 20, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    I’m laughing at the comments to this great article! When reading them, i can only see how fantastic Arsenal (and Germany) are without him, right? He is a burden to his teams and still the teams are unable to do anything WITHOUT him! Germany was crap without him for the start of the quali for the Euro 2016, they look so much better with him. Arsenal was crap when Mesut was injured. Ahd stll he is said to do nothing?
    Yeah, the best creator during the WC and the best creator of the PL surely isn’t needed in Arsenal who without him aims at best the 5th place.

    • Tim August 30, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      The best creator at the WC??? You are crazy. He was absolutely awful at the WC much like he finished that season at Arsenal. He was so tired and getting used to england granted but to say best creator at WC is silly. He was plain awful in the tournament if you can’t admit that you are Ozil bias. To clarify I believe in him but he is better then many say and worse than those who defend him say. Almost wc player based on his best form since Arsenal transfer but also awful for long stretches.

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