Mesut Ozil

Steven Gerrard v Mesut Ozil: Why the German isn’t Arsenal’s big problem

Stoke 1 – Arsenal 0

The fallout from Arsenal’s defeat at Stoke on Saturday has continued on Tuesday in the Times.

One of the issues which has dominated discussions since the game has been the performance of Mesut Ozil.

In the final year of his current Arsenal deal, it was incredible to see how few clubs tried to sign Ozil this summer.

The only real interest in the German World Cup winner came from Turkey.

Accordingly, Ozil is still very much in the Arsenal setup in 2017-18. But how effective will he be?

Steven Gerrard v Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil had a largely anonymous performance for Arsenal at Stoke.

That was picked up on BT Sport, as Arsenal legend Martin Keown said: “Arsenal can’t afford to carry Ozil!… He should have a good look at himself”.

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard also savaged Ozil.

Gerrard: “With Ozil Arsenal are a man down without the ball. He’s not bothered tracking back and a liability at the back”.

Defending Mesut Ozil

However, according to the Times’ Henry Winter, Ozil has once again been scapegoated.

Painting the German into Arsenal’s weakest link is a folly, explained Winter. He argued:

Arsenal’s No 11 can be frustrating, failing to impose his gifts more consistently, but the scapegoating obscures more damaging issues.

Ozil’s unwillingness to track back is not even in the top ten problems at Arsenal. Criticising Ozil is like complaining about the colour of the cones in a contraflow. 

Filling out his argument, Winter blamed Granit Xhaka for losing possession for Jese Rodriguez’s goal for Stoke. He also blame Danny Welbeck for a poor miss against the Potters, and he blamed Arsene Wenger for Arsenal’s choice of wing-backs.

Finally, on Stan Kroenke, Winter wrote: “It is not Ozil who is responsible for the corporate culture at the Emirates where individuals aren’t challenged enough and finishing first is no longer a priority as long as the money rolls in.”