Pundits have generally been down on the German but Ozil provides so much to the team.
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The excitement was palpable at Arsenal on transfer deadline day on September 3 2013, as the club broke their strict financial constraints to sanction a £42.4m deal for Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil.
The German was billed as the first genuinely world-class player to come to the Premier League in a number of years, with the norm seeing them depart for foreign climes.
Ozil made his debut against Sunderland in the English top tier on September 14, laying on a superb pass for Olivier Giroud to score and announcing himself with the Gunners.
This was followed by a display against Stoke City in which the attacking midfielder laid on passes for all three goals in a 3-1 triumph and it seemed as if the 25-year-old’s record of providing more assists in Europe between 2010 and 2013 than any other player was set to continue.
Yet as a busy Christmas fixture list descended on English football Ozil was thrown into a period unfamiliar to the Germany international – who had become used to winter breaks.
Since the New Year the midfielder’s form has admittedly dropped, but too much has been made of the playmaker failing to adapt to the physical demands of the game in England.
During a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool in the league on February 8, Ozil was bizarrely picked out for specific blame, despite the fact the usually sturdy Gunners defence was woeful.
No one is trying to claim the German was good against the Reds, but manager Arsene Wenger was right to write it off as an anomaly that the whole team failed in – not just an inidividual.
Ozil’s style is something English fans are unused to, with the former Madrid man doing much of his work off the ball and having such impeccable movement and an eye for positioning that it can be perceived as laziness.
Not that the midfield ace’s statistics look too bad anyway, with only Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney (nine) having provided more assists in the league than his eight.
Meanwhile only David Silva has played more key passes per game and in the Champions League only three players have managed to beat Ozil in the same discipline – of which Rooney and Franck Ribery are two.
Supporters at the Emirates Stadium would do well to stretch their memories back to the opening day of the season and the misery that descended around north London when Aston Villa beat them 1-3 at home.
The arrival of Ozil has lifted the club so much that the idea of that happening again is not even entertained by most.
All players suffer dips in form and with the German only 31 matches (five goals and 12 assists) into his Arsenal career, perhaps he isn’t quite as much of an expensive flop as everyone perceives.
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