Ozil delivers rallying call to fans
Mesut Ozil has delivered a timely rallying call to fans, pundits and teammates in the wake of a dismal 4-0 defeat against Liverpool and a disappointing end to the summer transfer window. Ozil was trolled heavily for his performance in the massacre at Anfield and former Gunners were quick to stick the boot in. Fans’ misery was compounded by the club’s actions in the final week of the transfer window as they failed to strengthen the side and lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool. Talk of a crisis at The Emirates shows no signs of abating, but Ozil displayed arguably more passion than he ever has on the pitch by launching a stirring rebuttal to his critics.
“Personally I’ve had to accept a lot of criticism during my time in London,” he wrote in a lengthy and heartfelt Facebook post. “‘Too expensive, too greedy, bad body language, and lacking fight’ – this is what people have said about me. Some of these comments are made by those who do not know me, some are made by former players – both successful and unsuccessful during their time here at the club. Although criticism is something that all football players have to deal with, I nevertheless expected legends to behave like legends – my advice to these former Gunners: stop talking and start supporting!”
Ozil has an uncanny knack of upsetting fans as his body language can be portrayed as negative and lazy, but he actually covers a great deal of ground during a match and his numbers speak for themselves. Since he joined four years ago he has created more goals and more chances than any other Premiership player, and he has four FA Cups to his name. He has been more successful than the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie ever were at The Emirates, and his frustration at the criticism is palpable.
But his statement struck just the right tone and it may well do the trick. Arsenal are always accused of lacking leaders, but this was the behaviour of a leader. Patrick Vieira described Ozil as just that, causing many fans to shake their heads in bemusement, but maybe our former captain was onto something. Ozil’s treatise could spur his teammates on to turn their season around, convince fans to get behind the team and persuade former Gunners to stop running their mouths so much in the press. The nature of news nowadays means that Paul Merson will talk for five minutes on TV and suddenly 20 articles with sensationalist headlines will appear online.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Ozil may give them pause for thought before launching the next tirade. “Six titles in four years [three FA Cups, three Community Shields] is quite something. However, this only makes myself and the team even more disappointed for not playing a role in the title race at the end of last season – this is something we hope to change this year.”
These are desperate times for Arsenal fans and the atmosphere is mutinous. Of course, Ozil really needs to lead by example on the pitch. Despite creating a huge number of chances, he could help by starting to really grab games by the scruff of the neck, dictate play and help grind out results that carry Arsenal up the table. In the wake of the mauling at Anfield, it might be time for Arsene Wenger to abandon the three at the back experiment, and go back to a 4-2-3-1, with Ozil in his preferred number 10 role. Fans are right to be angry about the lack of investment in the team as they were outspent by every other Premiership club apart from Swansea. But they still have a talented squad and Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud can form a magnificent attack. The defence looks dodgy and Arsenal probably cannot realistically challenge for the title, but if they get it right going forwards they can still break back into the top four and start moving in the right direction again.
Next up is an entirely winnable game against Bournemouth at home. The Cherries have had a poor start to the campaign too and it is the perfect fixture for Arsenal to get their season back on track. Bournemouth do not sit back and absorb pressure, they come out all guns blazing, and that should play into the hands of Ozil and co. Ladbrokes, a bookmaker that is highly rated on review sites due to its competitive odds, is offering 4/11 on Arsenal, showing that they really should win it comfortably. The transfer window is closed, no more money will be spent before January, Wenger is not going anywhere and the only thing left to do is stop moaning and start supporting.