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Majestic Ozil But Arsenal Defeated

Majestic Ozil (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

“Something tells me the players will be up for it and happy to be playing football as an escape from the other goings on around the club.“

Kudos are due to @shardgooner for being so prescient when he made the above forecast in his preview of the LIVvARS Carabao Cup game yesterday. He predicted that a mixed team of youngsters and relative veterans under the technical leadership of Mesut Ozil would sparkle at Anfield. He was absolutely right.

Ozil magic

Despite falling behind very early the Gunners went about their business with a certain vigor and verve that had been virtually absent since they blew away Nottingham Forest six weeks ago in the same competition. Just as he did against Forest, Mesut Ozil sparkled in bringing out the best from the very talented group of youngsters that Unai Emery mostly inherited from the club academy. The likes of Willock and Maitland-Niles were clearly rejuvenated after confidence-draining performances versus Vitoria in the Europa League less than one week ago, when they were summarily hooked at half-time.

Arsenal plundered three goals in 17 minutes in the first half to stun the Anfield faithful into silence as maestro Ozil worked his pre-assist magic. Twice he found Saka with precise passes that turned into assists. Arsenal’s  equalizing first goal came when his goal-bound shot was palmed back into the danger area for Torreira to ram home. Second and third goals were scored by Martinelli and he too was the beneficiary of Ozil playing the penultimate pass that led to his opportunities. Don’t forget Martinelli scored a hat-trick vs Forest, with Ozil operating behind him as a #10 and he should have had another last night but failed to take advantage of at least with two other big chances. The lad has an uncanny eye for goal, and just like a certain Portuguese who was a teammate of Ozil at Madrid, he is a beast when the German is supplying through-balls. No wonder the traveling Arsenal fans chanted the Mesut Ozil song with gusto for much of the 1st half often drowning out the majority Scousers.

Unfortunately for Arsenal just before half-time, Eliot of Liverpool, went tumbling to the ground after seemingly slight contact from a mistimed tackle by Martinelli which was adjudged a penalty. James Milner sent Martinez the wrong way giving Liverpool an important toehold back into the game.

The second half promised much drama as both teams maintained their attacking approach. Arsenal drew first blood taking advantage of an undercooked back pass by James Milner with Maitland-Niles applying the pressure. Ozil calmly flicked the errant ball back into his teamate’s path for the easiest of finishes.

But Liverpool kept pressing, apparently very familiar with the scouting report on Arsenal that under Emery the team almost always concede goals when in a winning position. At the 58th minute mark Oxlade-Chamberlain was quicker to a contested ball than AMN and blasted home a worldie and four minutes later Origi steered a hard shot beyond the flailing dive of Martinez. All squared at 4.

Emery’s substitutions

No Arsenal fan would have been surprised that on the 65th minute Emery’s first move was for Ozil to be substituted by Guendouzi. It may have been pre-arranged as Ozil and Emery engaged in perfunctory handshakes as he left the field unlike the cold stare between them when he was subbed 70 minutes into the Forest game.  Fans are now keenly aware that while Emery has a preference for young Guendouzi’s more energetic game he is technically inferior to Ozil. He is far less able to maintain possession game and to create chances. As if to belie this fear, in a 70th minute counter-attack, Guendouzi slid a pass to Willock who from 25 yards out drove a thunderous shot that swung and dipped past the Liverpool keeper to make the game 4-5.

Emery’s next tactical move to defend this potential game-winning lead was to bring on Ceballos for Torreira, i.e. a #8 for a #6. As we at Uncensored (and others) have observed, so far in his tenure at Arsenal the Real Madrid man has not distinguished himself either defensively or offensively. I immediately tweeted the following:

Emery’s third and final change, with Liverpool desperate for the equalizer, was in the 83rd minute by replacing Kolasinac with Tierney, leftback for leftback. I castigated the move as insufficient to close out the game as it was a like for like.

Unfortunately my worst fears came to light as Liverpool finally secured the equalizer when Origi received a pass in the box with enough time and space to drive home past Martinez. The penalty shoot-out brought to a crushing end what promised to be a night of great glory for our football club.

Conclusions

Some say our loss was due to bad luck, others blame it on fate. Frankly I refuse to attribute our defeat to any supernatural force beyond our control. That is a cop out. Our loss was majorly due to the tactical ineptitude of our manager. I stand by my tweet:

Have your say in the Comments section below.

3 Comments

  1. We all knew this but ysterday was a reminder on just how much Ozil is missed in our team. He made us look completely different and far better than we have been all season. Of course Emery wouldn’t have it and he once again proved just how tactically inept he is by taking him off so early. I hope we get rid of him sooner rather than later.

    Reply
    • In fairness to Emery, as I wrote, it appeared the Ozil sub was pre-arranged. But, how many of us were surprised he rushed to get Guendouzi on the pitch despite evidence week-in, week-out that the young Frenchman does not make us defend any better when we need to seal the deal. Almost all the games in which we have conceded a 2-goal lead, Guendouzi has been busy running in the direction of the ball but we don’t retain possession nor able to create a goal that would put the game to bed. Like too many fans, Emery seems to be under the illusion that being busy makes you a better player. Surely as an experienced, professional coach at the top level he would know better. Right?

      Reply
  2. Geez I miss seeing Özil play. I thought that the little pass to Saka who went thru and passed to Martinelli was awesome and then that flick to AMN was sublime. At first I did not see who made that pass to AMN but really is there another player at Arsenal who has the nous to do this? I hope we start seeing Özil play regularly, there is no way he skills have left him and with Auba and Laca up front we could do serious damage.

    As for the result we’ll no surprise, no team can win without a defensive midfielder and we are no different. I don’t dislike Guen but fail to see what is his strength (s) He runs around a lot, can make a long pass but really what else. I think he needs a lot of coaching because he seems to have tools to become a good player but he ain’t there yet.

    Reply

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