Analysing Mesut Özil's 200 appearances for Arsenal
On transfer deadline day in 2013, there were hundreds of Arsenal fans flocked outside the Emirates stadium not because they had beaten their rival Tottenham the previous day but because of the news emerging that Mesut Özil will be signing for Arsenal. While Arsenal had seen all their rivals splash the cash in previous years, this was the first major big money signing the North London made since their move to the Emirates Stadium. The German playmaker has since made 200 appearances for the club on 15th September 2018- marking a spell full of ups and downs.
At the time it was a type of player Arsenal had been crying out for. Having lost the creativity of Cesc Fabregas and the goalscoring prowess of Robin Van Persie in consecutive seasons, Arsenal needed a big money signing to lift the mood in the club. Within 15 minutes of his debut, Özil did what he does best, providing an assist. At the time Arsenal thought they have got the player who would take them to the next level and help them challenge for the Premier League and Champions League.
199 appearances later it would seem that the former Real Madrid playmaker has not reached the heights everybody expected from him. Last season (2017-18), his long drawn out contract saga left a sour taste in the mouths of plenty of fans. Further, there were also reports of him falling ill too often and being given extra days off by Arsene Wenger to recuperate, who later admitted that Özil 's immunity needs to be assessed also highlighted his medical concerns
Not only have Arsenal gone backward during that time but Özil himself has had to deal with criticism about his work rate and ability to influence the big games. Even though the stats may speak otherwise where Özil has provided 66 assists and scored 38 goals, none of them stick in your memory as game-changing moments (barring except maybe the assist against Leicester in stoppage time).
He has shown moments of brilliance during that time but its fair to say he has experienced his fair share of crushing defeats and humiliations especially against most of his German colleagues in 10-2 hammering against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The same event is also attributed as the turning point in Alexis Sanchez not wanting to sign a new contract at the club.
In hindsight, it looks like Özil was never going to be a player who was going to elevate the players he played alongside with. He is a player who relies on movement and space in the final third to impact the game. Arsenal, unfortunately, were unable to surround the German playmaker with the players to get the most out of him. There were games where he would be given a pass in midfield but would not find a passing outlet and was then easily dispossessed by the opposition players. Of course, he did have skillful colleagues like Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez besides him for most of his Arsenal career but so many times the defensive frailty of the team let him down.
The next three years are going to be crucial for both Arsenal and Özil. With a new coach at the helm and new ideas being transmitted to them, it is up to the German to ensure that there are similar celebrations on the streets on Islington as the day he signed, this time with a major trophy in his hands.