Arsenal and German midfielder Mesut Özil certainly has his fair share of doubters. Following a £42 million move from Real Madrid on the final day of the 2013 summer transfer market, many expected the German superstar to take the Premier League by storm.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was the latest pundit to criticize the Arsenal midfielder (a former United player chastising an Arsenal player? Weird). During Arsenal’s shock defeat to Monaco in the knockout phase of the Champions League, Neville singled out the German out of the many poor performances on the Arsenal side of the pitch, saying, “Özil continues to confuse and amaze. I imagined he would be a world-class player, but he hasn’t materialized.”
What has materialized during Özil’s short time at Arsenal so far is the fact that the Gunners won the FA Cup last May, ending their trophy drought in the process. Özil has not only helped guide the Gunners to a trophy, but the German international has also never lost a home Premier League match that he has featured in. The north London club is undefeated in 18 matches with Özil in the side during league play at the Emirates.
Taking the overreaction to Özil’s play to idiotic levels, Give Me Sport recently called the German “an utter failure” since his arrival at the Emirates. The blog post also went on to call Özil, “arguably one of the worst pound-for-pound signings of the Premier League era – and the most concerning thing for Arsene Wenger is there appears to be little light at the end of the tunnel.”
Since when is winning trophies and being undefeated at home during league play a failure?
While admittedly Özil has not set the world on fire with an eye-popping goal and assist tally since his arrival to the Emirates, his key passes per game and chances created per game are better than other top performers in the Premier League. The German was not brought into the Arsenal side to score 25 goals per season. Below is a table using 2014/15 Premier League statistics.
|Mesut Özil||Juan Mata||A. Di Maria||Oscar||A. Herrera||Coutinho|
|Key Passes P/Game||2.15||1.13||1.85||1.18||0.69||1.28|
|Chances Created P/Game||2.54||1.26||2.25||1.50||0.88||1.44|
Credit to Özil as he does not seem to let the constant criticism bother him. The reigning Arsenal Player of the Month appears to be genuinely enjoying his time with his teammates and Gunner fans. I’m fairly certain that Arsenal fans are happy with a “failure” of a player that has won both an FA Cup trophy and a World Cup trophy within the past year, and also puts up more key passes and chances created per game than other top players in the league. Another criticism of Özil’s is the fact that he seems “lazy” and “disinterested” on the pitch at times. Since February 1st, there is no other Arsenal player that has covered more distance on the pitch than Mesut Özil (including more than any other Gunner during the Monaco loss and the Everton victory). The midfielder has run over 63 kilometers during this time frame. Özil’s stats also are very comparable to those of widely praised David Silva. The Manchester City midfielder has averaged 2.41 key passes per game and 2.54 chances created per match during Premier League play.
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