Now the dust has begun to settle, after Arsenal’s unconvincing victory over West Ham, I thought I’d add my one euro’s worth to the arguments swirling around in the Goonersphere.
For once, I’m not going to complain about Granit Xhaka, as he’s actually played the full game in a London ‘derby’ and finished on the winning side. For that reason, he deserves to keep his place…at least, for one week more.
Obviously, the big talking point is Mesut Ozil. Let me lay my cards on table: I’ve been a fan of the German for many years. When I saw him play for Germany’s U21 side, I thought he was something special. After numerous ‘sick notes’ and no shows, my opinion has changed. I wonder what other occupation you can do more or less nothing in and be paid so handsomely, to the tune of £350k per week. I’d consider taking up any embarrassing form of dancing, including around a Maypole in the wrong month, if I was going to get that sort of wonga.
Just for the record, those that know me will tell you how little I care about footballers’ wages. For the most part, they deserve the money. They suffer serious injuries and have to completely dedicate themselves to the sport.
However, I seem to recall seeing a photo of Ozil smoking. Perhaps, it was photoshopped, but if not how is tobacco going to improve his work rate?
Clearly, something physical and perhaps even mental is questionable about Ozil nowadays. I never expect him to turn up for away games, particularly against teams that kick, rollock and bite. Trips to the north west, likewise, do not appeal to the mercurial midfielder.
Home games, on the other hand, normally do not cause Ozil such a problem. He usually seems to at lest semi-motivate himself for these clashes, as long as he’s getting sufficient protection from the referee and Arsenal are winning. It’s when the Gunners have to dig in that Ozil goes AWOL.
To some extent, Ozil follows in the proud tradition of another famous number ten: the ‘non-flying Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp. It must be stated though that Bergkamp developed into a tough player, after arriving in England. No one was going to shove him off the ball. Can the same be said about Ozil?
The big question now is what Arsenal should do with him. I’d leave him on the bench, until he’s needed, although it’s difficult to imagine him making much impact as a substitute.
I’d personally favour selling him abroad, just to get him off the wage bill. I can’t see anyone being able to afford him, so it looks like Arsenal are stuck with this extremely talented passenger for many years to come.