By Mac Izu Nelson
Ask any Arsenal fan who the most ire inspiring player in Wenger’s setup is and undoubtedly, Mesut’s name would spring up countless times.
This assertion would be alluded to, without the slightest hint of ambivalence.
After the match against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, a miasma of emotion was the prelude to overtly critical memes, deriding the German international’s commitment to the team.
His lethargic, languorous approach to games compared to Alexis Sanchez’s bullish, no holds barred approach means that during a match, his “flaws” stand out like a blackhead on a smooth pale face.
It generated a hue and cry when in one moment during the City game, Mesut Ozil had allowed Fernando to breeze past him without making an attempt to track back.
Fans erupted in volcanic clouds of fury.
Vitriol was spat, middle fingers sprang out of firm fists.
Arsenal Wenger, dubbed “Mesut’s biggest fan”, defended Özil by stating, in the midst of all the fan uproar, “Özil does more work than you know.”
He is right.
Yes Özil averages just 0.7 tackles per game in the premier league, which is quite low, but aside Eden Hazard with 18, Özil has won possession in the final third of the pitch on 16 occasions. In that regard he is on par with Alexis Sanchez.
But his “flaws” are not forgiven because Özil is not, and would never be an explosive player; in the mould of a Hazard or Sanchez, capable of breezing past players at speed.
He is a Rolls Royce player, the kind of player that glides through the game, waiting for the precise moment to strike. He would bring a difficult pass under control, then his body movement would create some space for him, before he would lay on the perfect pass.
As Wenger frequently says, Özil who is Arsenal’s record signing, was not bought to defend.
He was acquired for his magic in the final third of the pitch.
His link up play with Alexis Sanchez has been the reason for Arsenal’s charge at the title this season and there is no deadlier combination in the league. Of Özil’s five goals this season, Sanchez has assisted four, in what is somewhat a reversal of roles considering Mesut’s history of assists.
His deft touches and speed of thought are a constant joy to behold. His goal against Ludogorets FC was a thing of outlandish beauty, a timely reminder of his capabilities.
So, while we enjoy the harrying, menacing Alexis Sanchez, let us also revel in the serene, restrained bundle that is Mesut Ozil.
After all, there’s a beauty to every beast, and together, they conjure blockbuster magic.