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Will Ozil Ever Improve Out Wide?

Mesut Özil might be injured but it hasn't stopped people talking about him being "misused" out wide. Why is one of the world's elite talents such a divisive figure?

“How does it feel to be Tottenham? How does it feel to be small? You sold Bale, we signed Mesut Özil, Mesut Özil.“ – an ode to Özil.

It all started so brightly; transfer deadline day on a cold glorious September day - it almost feels like an age ago. And what proceeded was an overwhelming air of excitement around the Emirates, a buzz around the ground and why? All because we had just signed the best playmaker in the world. The “Özil Effect” was almost immediately apparent and seemed to catalyse Arsenal forward, in particular Aaron Ramsey, and although Özil’s first season wasn't stellar, from what little I know about football, he helped improve players around him. Why? Because World-Class players do that. And anyone who says Mesut Özil is not a world-class player knows nothing about football – whether his form reflects his class is an entirely different matter. Ye olde “Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent” comes to mind. 

Then what happened last season after the initial Özil Effect? Same old Arsenal - injuries happened, we got slaughtered, a few more injuries happened, we got 4th and we won an F.A. Cup. All in all a season filled with positives, a trophy and above all else – regret. I honestly believe that we would have walked the league last year if Walcott stayed fit. But I digress – this is meant to be about Özil.

And in stead with the discussion of Özil, I’d like to shameless reference my blockbuster début blog post, you may have heard of it from such critics as @noobgooner who called it “unbelievably average” and it incited a few discussions with fellow Gooners who disagreed with my team line-up since it included neither Alexis or Özil – our two superstars. Just quickly on Alexis, I was making an assumption based on seeing him ice his toe against Galatasaray and assumed he wouldn't start – the guy is electric so if I knew he was fit I would have included him. But I stick to my view that we should not be playing Özil in this kind of game and why? Because his position out wide requires defensive work, he is not a defensive minded player and we all know that unless injuries force it Wenger isn’t ready to play him at 10.

Ozil at 10

So the obvious question arises, why won’t Arsene Wenger play his most expensive player (though the value may have dropped) in his best position? Well to be frank, like a lot of things about Arsenal, only Arsene knows why Arsene does what Arsene does. So I’ll attempt to piece together, a few irrelevant facts, a lot of opinions, and several points of conjecture I will then proceed to tie it all up together and *spoiler alert* explain why this is all some massive Illumunati Conspiracy.

Now before I get into this, I know there are a few people who feel that even in his favoured role Özil doesn’t quite get the job done but in that regard he is a player that requires runners and pace around him. Ironically he requires the same things that Giroud does and yet their playing styles (in my opinion) are incompatible. 

Moving swiftly on, Wenger historically does tend to enjoy putting central midfielders out wide so that they can develop their game, and he has done it with the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey and the Ox – to name a few. Now barring the Ox who has the pace to be a reasonably adept winger, for the other two it was a rite of passage – something they had to overcome in order to be part of a fluid midfield. In my mind I don’t think Wenger sees the attacking midfield as separate positions but rather an interchangeable mess designed to unlock defences. Now that almost sounds poetic but does it work? Well you only need to look so far as the most recent winners of the World Cup, their fluid attack was highly effective and in my humble opinion should be what Arsenal strives to replicate.

Following on from that, then why does Özil need this rite of passage? Why does a world-class player need this education? Because Wenger sees it as the best way to quickly acclimatise him to the Premier League – something that I would argue has yet to completely happen. On the wing Özil is more likely to lose the ball, has to do constant defensive work – probably the weakest area of his game – and is less able to influence a match. Now am I saying we should feel sorry for our millionaire star or that we should bake him a birthday cake? Not all, but I think/hope there is method to Wenger’s apparent madness. And just as a follow-up, I don’t think Özil had his best 2 minutes in an Arsenal shirt against Aston Villa by coincident, he definitely seemed a different player in the middle and his assist for Welbeck did actually come from a wide position.

Ultimately I don’t know if playing Özil out wide will make him better, but hindsight is 20-20 and amongst the various opinions of Özil it was interesting that irrespective of separate agendas – a lot of fans got behind #PlayÖzilAt10 – which leads to my assumption that even if Özil has a bad game, if he is out wide in that game then Wenger is culpable. Which is completely fair but leads to the central issue that divides our fanbase – Arsene in or Arsene out –at this point though I’d like make an unsubstantiated guess and say that most of the people who say “Özil is Shit” are doing it in order to gather more ammunition against Arsene #conspiracy.

All I know is this, if we continue our mediocre form than Arsene’s ability to manage his team will continually be called into question and so will his ability to manage “superstars”. That being said – our next run of games is littered with manageable opponents and an opportunity to increase morale and raise away the clouds of cynicism. In this time I think lies Özil’s best opportunity to impress, increase his own confidence levels and prove his doubters wrong.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that this is conjecture of the highest degree and frankly I know very little about football compared to most but this is what I think about when someone asks me my thoughts on Özil.

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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