Will Mesut Ozil’s injury affect Arsenal’s performance over next few months?

Dipak Patel takes a look at what sort of impact Mesut Özil's knee ligament injury will have on Arsenal

By Dipak Patel

Mesut Ozil has divided opinion among fans since he arrived at Arsenal in a club-record £42.5, deal from Real Madrid in September 2013.

Initially, his signing was lauded as a master stroke; The German made the move to the Premier League boasting the highest number of assists in Europe in the previous five seasons.

At the time, Manchester United legend Gary Neville hailed the signing as the “best of the window”.

However, recently, Neville has readdressed his view: “Some players can carry a lack of form better than others. His body language suggests he struggles.”

The former England man’s sentiments mirror what many fans and pundits now think of Ozil.

He is a highly0talented player and has shown in glimpses of what he can do, such as his performance against Aston Villa and displays against Napoli and Sunderland last season.

But that is the problem: you can remember his great performances because there have been so few.

Many thought that it was simply a case of adjusting to life in the Premier League. It can take even the very top players a season to get use to a culture or style of football.

However, nothing has changed this season for Ozil. He still appears at times to be disinterested and if things aren’t going right for Arsenal on the pitch, Ozil struggles.

Despite the criticism, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended the Germany international.

“What is difficult to manage today is that everybody knows absolutely everything and everybody judges people definitely on one game. You have to accept that football is played by human beings who have ups and downs like you have in your life.”

It is definitely a fair point that Wenger makes, but what doesn’t seem so fair is that when Ozil isn’t performing, he is still kept on the pitch in hope rather than expectation.

That is exactly what happened against Chelsea when Wenger kept faith with Ozil at the expense of the more industrious Santi Cazorla, who was taken off.

His injury is unfortunate and will see him out of action for an estimated 12 weeks, but Jack Wilshere is of the opinion that Ozil’s absence won’t affect Arsenal’s system too much and will give some of the other players a chance to thrive.

“Ozil was playing on the left a bit so it probably won’t change much in the centre. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will get a chance. Walcott is coming back as well.”

What Ozil’s absence will also do is allow Arsenal to add a bit of variety to their game. What Arsenal have been criticised for in recent times is being too predictable, not having enough tactical variations.

Even though Wenger has experimented with Ozil on the left, he is not a natural fit in their but players such as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Joel Campbell and the returning Theo Walcott are.

It will make Arsenal much more of a potent threat when playing counter-attacking football and we may start to see some of that when they play Hull in their next game.

Rather than the 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 we have become accustomed to, we might see a variant of the 4-3-3 from Wenger and it may prove to be a success moving forward.

Ozil is a world-class player, but his performances to date suggest Arsenal won’t suffer too much from his absence and may even lead to a much needed change in emphasis.


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