Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil issue and Mathieu Debuchy injury setback
Arsenal (9/1 to lift the Premier League) have problems to solve in both attack and defence, as they look forward to a Capital One Cup encounter with Southampton, followed by a north London derby against bitter rivals Tottenham.
Attacking ace Ozil has spoken out over the recent criticism of his form after turning in a sublime performance against Aston Villa last time out.
Former Real Madrid, Werder Bremen and Schalke star Ozil struck early to help Arsenal ease past Villa, combining well with Danny Welbeck to net the opener, before turning provider for the England international to hit the second.
The 25-year-old had previously put in a series below-par performances in crunch clashes against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, leading some to question his application.
Speaking after the victory at Villa Park, Ozil said: “I don’t play to prove anything to anybody, I play for Arsenal. I have the feeling that I am criticised more, that happened to me in the Bundesliga and also at Real Madrid.
“We have only just started the season and we have new players in key positions. The collective game, which is something I have a lot to do with, cannot then just work well from one day to the next.”
Whilst Ozil is a player with undeniable talent, the languid approach that often saw him lauded whilst playing for the likes of Werder Bremen, has sometimes seen him labelled as a passenger and a luxury option with Arsenal and Real.
This World Cup winner with Germany has a tendency to disappear in the big games but, to be fair to Ozil, he has often been deployed in a wide left role this term. There had been calls to drop him after the Dortmund debacle, but after being shifted back to a central position against the Villans, Wenger reaped the rewards of keeping his faith.
Former Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho, however, who nutured Ozil at the Bernabeu between 2010 and 2013, also seems to believe his weaknesses are worth enduring.
Speaking about criticism aimed at the former Bundesliga schemer during the World Cup, Blues boss Mourinho stated: “Sometimes, you don’t see him, sometimes he isn’t on the screen many, many times. But when he is, he is a special player.”
This quote also encapsulates Ozil’s time at Arsenal so far. The German international, who is of Turkish heritage, arrived at the Emirates to much fanfare last summer, becoming a club-record £42.4m signing. Ozil duly dazzled with his displays, but by the end of the season it was evident that the midfield magician still had to iron out inconsistencies in his game.
Under Mourinho at Madrid, the maestro was often a match-winner, but was also frequently subbed-off before full time as his influence often appeared to fade in the latter stages.
Then, Ozil was surrounded by superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who were more than happy to shoulder the attacking burden. However, in north London, as Ozil himself has said, the Gunners have a host of new signings to accommodate.
Whilst the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Welbeck continue to bed in at the Emirates, Ozil will be called upon to provide more stunning performances in the ilk of his Aston Villa escapades. Price tags aside, more than one world class outing every six appearances will be needed to silence those critics, particularly if Ozil continues to be deployed in his favoured role as a number 10.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger also faces a defensive dilemma following the news that right back Mathieu Debuchy could be sidelined for up to three months. Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Capital One Cup encounter with Southampton, Wenger stated: “He had surgery on Friday and will be out for three months. A reasonable delay is three months. All went well, but it can be a week or two earlier or a week or two later.”
This news is a substantial blow to the Gunners, who have already had to field fledgling defender Hector Bellerin in their 2-0 defeat to Dortmund. Debuchy will now likely be absent for Arsenal’s remaining Champions League group games, which will force Wenger to fling Barcelona-born Bellerin back into the fray.
Young Spaniard Bellerin will now be back-up for Calum Chambers, who has so far been deployed at the heat of defence for the Gunners since his £16m summer switch from Saints. This injury setback will see the England cap revert to right back, where he had previously operated for the majority of his career so far.
Wenger has insisted that his inexperienced rearguard options are up to the challenge, but reports continue to link Arsenal with moves to snap up experienced out-of-contract stars. Former Gunner Lassana Diarra and defensive duo Diego Lugano and Joseph Yobo have been mooted to come in as cover.