To the naysayers, Mesut Ozil is a flop, yet according to those same folks, his injury is a ‘big blow’ for Arsenal. The picture may always seem to be painted with gloomy colours by the Gunners’ critics but in truth, there is more than enough light at the end of the tunnel for Wenger’s men.
A player of Mesut’s quality – whether in-form or out of sorts – will be missed by any football team, but considering the amount of firepower still left in Arsenal’s underrated armoury, the German may not be missed dearly.
Indeed, do not be surprised if the Gunners take their game to the next level while Ozil takes his time out.
Sounds crazy? Well, here are three reasons why…
Podolski’s time has finally come
Lukas Podolski has not been delighted by sitting on the bench until there is no one else to call upon but he could probably walk into the starting line-up now. Despite displaying his ability as one of the best finishers in front of goal, Arsene Wenger never seems convinced enough to hand Lukas a regular spot. When a half fit Yaya Sanogo is preferred in a clash with Bayern Munich, three days after Podolski had scored the winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup, the German forward is right to feel a sense of injustice.
But Ozil’s absence means there is now a void to be filled in that starting line-up. And if his brilliant strike at the Allianz Arena does not remind Wenger of what Podolski could mean to Arsenal going forward, then nothing ever will. Also, his scarce ability to track back when playing on the left flank will please an Arsenal crowd which must be sick of the sight of Cazorla, Ozil and Wilshere piling all the work on Gibbs or Monreal.
Less indecisive, more straightforward line-ups and tactics
For six weeks at least, there will be no having to name Ozil first on the team sheet because he cost £42 million even though he was probably one of the weak links from the last game. Ozil’s presence has inspired Arsenal into playing out their skin this season and despite his recent blip, he should be lauded for his immense contribution at the start of the season.
But with Wenger not required to build a starting line-up around the former Madrid star, certain players will now be playing in their preferred roles for once. Santi Cazorla is one them. Last year, the Spaniard made a living on playing in that ‘number 10’ role which Ozil has seized this campaign, netting a stunning 12 goals in the process. In Ozil’s absence, Cazorla can now move back to playing behind the striker and leave the left flank for a more accomplished winger who can actually track back. Ultimately, Arsenal will now be forced to deploy more width in their attack while Ozil is out, hindering Wenger’s habit of playing several central attacking midfielders and no wingers.
And oh, the German’s time out could be the best pill to Wenger’s selection headache. The Frenchman has appeared indecisive when the likes of Wilshere and Ozil are all available, picking the wrong combinations in midfield sometimes, but this time, the team picks itself.
Much needed rest for Mesut
Some attribute his recent dip in form to laziness while others claim he is simply overrated, but Mesut Ozil is actually a tired human being. For a man accustomed to winter breaks from his playing days in the Bundesliga and La Liga, it is no easy adaption for Ozil to suddenly play through December in the Premier League like it is nothing new.
Sure, he is not the first to arrive from a foreign league and to be fair, any professional athlete should be able to handle the rigors of fatigue in a new country. Santi Cazorla, another La Liga import, is an example Ozil could have followed. But everyone’s body works differently and the fact the German has played more games than any other outfield player apart from Mertesacker and Koscielny is alarming. Defenders do less running than players in front of them anyway, and it is no secret that covering so much ground in midfield has taken its toll on Ozil, hence his hamstring injury.
You can be brilliant like Albert Einstein but when fatigue strikes, it can beat you down like Hulk Hogan. We have also witnessed players return in rejuvenated fashion after enjoying a rest and there should not be any doubt that Ozil could move in that direction.