2015 FA Cup Final: Arsenal vs Aston Villa. Arsenal lead 3-0 and in the 77th minute Ozil is subbed for Wilshere. Just when Ozil is coming out, a Villa fan screams at Ozil but he smiles back at him and sends a flying kiss. Of course, he had put on a class show during the final and it’s not the first nor the last time Ozil reacted like this.
A cool calm persona, with a cheerful smile. A player whose aesthetics will send us in awe, his impeccable vision which makes us look like only he has the better eye- boy rest of the world just can’t see. On his best day, there isn’t a player close to him.
Watching him play is like watching a conductor sitting high with a baton on his hand and directing the opera. Without uttering a word, the conductor controls the whole music; in many ways Ozil performs the same. Sitting between the lines, drifting for spaces, exchanging one-twos with the teammates and tearing apart the lines with his movement, for a moment it feels as if it’s not even rehearsed, its emerging naturally with telepathic understanding with the teammate, splitting multiple lines with his pass, controlling the possession in final third, almost everything will go through him, every movement is with him. A genius blessing us with his game, generational and truly one of his own kind.
Ozil’s signing looked like a beginning of a new era at Arsenal, the end of financial constrictions. Many of Arsenal fan base including myself firmly believed that would essentially end the so called ‘Banter era.’ But sadly, that hasn’t been the case. Arsenal bought Ozil but failed to stabilize system around him. To have a creative playmaker to flourish, the team should be capable of covering his defensive deficiencies and a striker competent to materialize the chances created. This isn’t difficult as it sounds. However, Arsenal failed miserably to fill the latter part. Arsene desperately tried to sign prolific striker. Suraez, Higuin, Vardy etc were approached but Arsenal couldn’t land any of them. Ozil and the addition of Sanchez, who was often system disruptive but a valuable goal scorer dragged Arsenal through only to crumble in the latter days.
Love and Hate
Probably after Wenger, Ozil is the persona who has the most divisive fan base within Arsenal. One group admires him wholeheartedly even overlooking his flaws while the other group firmly believe him to be deadwood, a player who is obsolete in the era of compactness. While neither of the sides are absolutely correct, the truth is somewhere in between. The fact that these two sides usually stay on either extremes further make the division chaotic.
There is a notion that Ozil is a round peg in a square hole. It is partly true. But Ozil’s effectiveness will depend on the teammates as well. Which means he is as good as the team is around him. For Ozil to have the freedom to elevate the offensive aspect of the team someone has to cover for the defensive gap that might be left.
Currently the Arsenal midfield is sorely lacking tooth creatively. Pepe and Aubameyang both seem isolated and has to do more work and most of Arsenal goals are more of an individual brilliance than systematic approach towards offensive nature. So naturally playing Ozil would probably do more good than bad. But there is more to it. At this stage it is safe to assume Ozil isn’t preferred to be the front liner at Arsenal. Yet, it is not entirely clear whether the whole Arsenal hierarchy want Ozil out of their wage bill or is there some coldness in particular between Ozil and Emery. If the PSG case teaches us anything is that Unai Emery is legitimately capable of inciting friction with the players. But the fact still remains, Arsenal can still perform better with Ozil.
At the moment the treatment of Ozil from the club and the fanbase is something painful to witness. He is relegated from the first 11. Despite being named as one of the captains, he doesnt get chances at all. Even with praiseworthy performances this season Ozil has been constantly dropped. Despite playing an integral part in Arsenal’s almost all big performances, Ozil’s contribution has been revisioned to a level of disrespect.
Now five years after the Wembley final, Ozil shushes Valencia fans for booing him, throws jacket at opposition manager and seems clearly unhinged. A lot has happened since. Ozil has been a subject of racism. His own national team turned their back on him. Various media tried to label his act as playing victim card when in fact he was one of the braves to come out. He was recently subject to a life-threatening attack. He pledged loyalty to a club who doesn’t want him, a fan base whose majority want him gone, a section of people who will genuinely celebrate his downfall. Today’s situation dictates every fan must have their voice, no matter how fickle it may be.
In this era of the latter stages of the careers of big names like Messi, Ronaldo, Modric, Pique, Ramos etc, there is good chance we might also be seeing the twilight of Ozil. A playmaker who seemingly choosed liquid football over legacy. A generational playmaker, to whom history just might not be kind enough. Maybe, when the time comes Arsenal seem better moving on from him. But for now, integrating Arsenal within the squad will be better for all.
Submitted by @sminbhattarai05