It seems that Mesut Ozil finds himself facing new and harsher criticism with every bad match and result for Arsenal, constantly fueling the discussion of whether it truly is his fault that he has been playing so poorly or is it more a matter of positioning and having the right players around him.
The loss at Dortmund in the Champions League didn’t clear that up. Ozil was rated as the worst player on the pitch by the German newspapers. The Arsenal fans weren’t exactly forgiving towards their most expensive signing in history; a player they saw as the sign that Arsene Wenger is finally changing – finally willing to play in the big league’s game of buying the best players in the world.
Why was Ozil signaled out more than others? Everyone except for Wojciech Szczesny was terrible for Arsenal, who used a very weird formation that left them exposed in the back time after time against a very quick attack Dortmund usually field. It didn’t help that Hector Bellerin was the emergency right back, and that Ozil of all people was placed as something of a right winger who needs to help out, which he obviously didn’t.
Ozil isn’t the engine of a team. He isn’t a foundation to build upon. He is a special extra you add to a structure that’s pretty much standing on its own two feet without a lot of help. In that kind of role, as long as he’s playing in the right position, he should provide fireworks.
For most of the the start of last season, that was the case. But then came injuries and some abysmal displays as Arsenal once again showed that showing up in big matches is too much to ask from them. Ozil isn’t the player who’ll shine when everyone around him is terrible. He sinks just as low as the others, and his body language and lack of physicality that often helps motivate fans and others around him just makes him stand out even more as the weakest link.
Arsene Wenger has plenty of problems in his squad. Defense. Striker. But there’s a general decision he needs to make going forward in this season, as Arsenal have won just five points out of a possible 12 to start things out. How vital is Mesut Ozil to him, and is he willing to move around players in order to put Ozil in the best position to succeed?
If Wenger is still in love with the idea of playing Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in the middle of the pitch together while Mikel Arteta or someone else plays behind him, Ozil will surely be stuck on the wing. Sometimes right, mostly left, but that part isn’t going to change. By the way: The current formation and tactics aren’t really working out.
But if Wenger sees Ozil as possibly his best player, he needs to move things around, and put Ozil in a position that will make him better and be a launching pad for assists and goals. Constantly locking him in the wrong place on the pitch is just a recipe for more of the same, which at some point will lead him to be dropped.