Image: Wikimedia Commons / Ronnie Macdonald
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Ronnie Macdonald

Mesut Ozil and Arsenal: the Gunners’ creative issues could be easily solved

Everything seemed to be looking good at Arsenal. They won their first trophy since Wenger left under Mikel Arteta, managing to beat formidable Chelsea and Manchester City sides along the way, Partey signed, Aubameyang penned a contract extension and new signing Willian achieved a hat-trick of assists in the club’s first game of the season.

Since then, the signs that this Arsenal team may not have moved on as far as we had originally thought under Arteta began to emerge. To list all the teams that have beaten Arsenal this season would make for a tedious read, yet Aston Villa, Everton and Burnley are notable teams to have managed to take victory against Arsenal this season.

Arsenal have been made much more solid defensively under Arteta, yet at the moment they seem to struggle to create. The midfield of Xhaka and Ceballos is not dictating play as it once did and Arsenal have been found out for their excessive wing-play. Likewise, Partey has not looked like he will solve any immediate central issues even when he is fit. Their wing-play has been rather uninspiring this season as well, with Willian struggling to create, Pepe being inconsistent and Aubameyang not firing since his contract extension.

All-in-all, this season has shown how reliant Arsenal are on Aubameyang and what he brings to the team. It also shows that an FA Cup win last season papered over many cracks, with Arsenal Fans seemingly drunk off one trophy and the singings of Gabriel and Partey.

One common theme throughout Arsenal’s misfortunes over the last 3 years is the Ozil situation, which again escalated recently after Arteta left him out of his 25-player Premier League squad. This means he is currently ineligible to play in the competition.

Ozil is a phenomenally talented player with a keen eye for a pass; to leave him out of a team currently struggling to create good chances in the final third seems foolish.

This has led many to speculate that the club has issues with him outside of his output on the pitch

Arteta has proven himself throughout his career to be anything but foolish, for him to take such a hard-line stance on Mesut Ozil seems out of character. Ozil started in Arteta’s first match against Bournemouth and gave Arsenal a real creative spark lacked during the final days of Emery’s reign. This has led many to speculate that the club has issues with him outside of his output on the pitch.

Ozil has been known to be outspoken, using social media to announce his retirement from international football with a statement accusing the German football association of racism. Ozil has been similarly outspoken about the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China, something that got him in a lot of hot water in the long run.

Although a statement such as “genocide is bad” seems relatively uncontroversial to the reader, it is unclear how decision-makers have taken the stance. On the day Ozil tweeted about the situation in China, Arsenal’s game with Manchester City was pulled from Chinese TV. Arsenal receive a lot of money from Chinese fans and Chinese broadcasting. You can do the maths.

Reports of Ozil’s refusal to take a wage cut were also widely-documented. Whether he should’ve taken one or not is up to the reader. As much as Ozil’s choice not to sacrifice some of his eye-watering £350,000 weekly wage may seem excessive to some, this situation can also be portrayed as Stan Kronke asking his players to take a pay cut as well while laying off many more Arsenal staff members instead of sacrificing some of his billions.

Mesut Ozil is surprisingly outspoken for a football player and he is principled as a human being. This is what has got him into trouble when he clashes with the Arsenal board. He will contest that his loyalty to Arsenal has been ever-present, yet others will cite that he did not sign a new contract until £350,000 was offered his way.

I am firmly of the opinion that Ozil was wasted on Arsenal as a player and a person, his time at Real Madrid shows not only his talent but his work rate as well. Ozil will always be one of my favourite players for his on-pitch talent, but also his off-pitch attitudes towards social issues and building a brand for himself with his eSports team. I hope the twilight years of his career allow us to see more of his skills showcased.

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