Friday, 21 February 2014

This Mezut Ozil Lynching

First, the media and the garrulous pundits hailed the arrival of Mezut Ozil from Real Madrid for £42 million as the "stellar" signing Arsenal needed. It was supposed to be a coup for Arsenal, the capture of a "world class player!" Whoever came up with this primitive cliche - "world class player" these knob heads in the media use, needs to see a psychiatrist. Can the likes of Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville explain what a "world class player" looks like?

Ozil has now become the poster boy for everything wrong with Arsenal when they lose a game, just because he cost £42 million. What has the transfer fee got to do with him? Suddenly his stats gets put under the microscope to malevolent intents.  James Olley of the Evening standard  told us that the German international ran less kilometres against Bayern than Wishere and Flamini. This sort of factual non-sense has been used to prosecute and pillory the player incessantly over the last two weeks. This section of the media are the same that thrash-talked Wayne Rooney a few months back. Now the Manchester United number 10 is flavour of the month. Experts? Experts in non-sense!
Mathieu Flamini Mesut Ozil
There are different sorts of play-makers, and Ozil is of the subtle, sleeker variant. A talented, sensitive, and reticent sort of footballer. Certainly deserving better than Gary Neville barracking his defensive performance like he did from the commentary position during Arsenal 0-2 loss to Bayer Munich, at the Emirates. Only a daft person would expect him to run box-to-box, taking on five defenders. That's just not his game. Did you see him do that at Real Madrid?

Arsene Wenger ought to be the one in the firing line here. Yes, Ozil missed a second consecutive penalty; People forget Bayern Munich's David Alaba has also missed twice from the spot this season. Players miss penalties: wether running-up; blasting it; placing it, which ever technique! The real issue was: It was going to be a struggle for the gunners due to the configuration of the team by the manager.

Arsenal had their best game of the season so far on match day 2 of the champions league, when they took on Napoli at the Emirates. Wenger played a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Rosicky playing the crucial role, straddling midfield, and supporting Ozil in attack. There's no doubt Arsenal needed three central midfielders, given the way Bayern keep the ball, and move it swiftly from side-to-side. The best part of their creative play still comes through the middle. It was all too obvious on Wednesday night, they lacked the gravitas to counteract Bayern in the middle; and once Bayer gained that foot-hold, defeat was imminent. Arsenal lost the confidence and the initiative to build attacks. No speed, no outlet, relentless Bayern pressing, meaning they repeatedly surrendered possession, and became sitting ducks for the European champions.

Down to 10 men, Wenger had the opportunity to re-calibrate his faltering side, but once again he made the wrong judgement call taking off Santi Carzola: Perhaps it ought to have been Yaya Sanogo; and  pushing dejected Ozil into the false striker's role...... ball at his feet, he could have precipitated runners ahead of him, thereby sparking an outlet. Oxlade Chamberlain should have been moved to the left to work with Monreal to curb the menace of Robben on Bayern's right wing. Being a balanced player, he too could have offered a counter attacking outlet. Rather, Wenger compromised his play-marker ( Ozil ) to do deep defensive duties - a task unsuitable, unwise, and a blatant tactical error that affected the whole team.  Carzola could have coped better on the right flank, because Alaba and Goatze were not as terrorising as Robben, Lahm / Raffinha.

It would have made a lot more sense starting with Podolski in the striker's berth, with Ozil and Rosicky behind him. Given Rosicky's speed, plus his offensive and defensive nous, Arsenal would have been in better shape.

Rather than the self styled experts in the media aiming their tawdry invectives at Ozil, Perhaps we will be best served if they came up with tactical postulations on how to dethrone this monster called Bayern Munich. Not one of them says anything to buck the trend. They either cluck at how good Bayern are, or crow about  how badly their opponents do! who pays these idiots to do analysis - assaulting our footballing intelligence? Did you notice how Jamie Redknapp talked down Jamie Carragher when he suggested Arsenal rest their big players for the second leg? Redknapp's tone and manners in that particular exchange was symptomatic - tactless, self-serving, cocky in his pronouncements.

It's a shame Guardiola's footballing philosophy leaves many teams spell bound. My take is: teams have got to counteract it. Not by sitting back defending, but by attacking and defending with gusto. I believe Arsenal can play better at the Allianz Arena in the second leg. The core tactical plan should be to attack rapidly from the flanks, generate better dynamism into the spaces Bayern leave behind, and restricting them from committing so many bodies into attack, by not dropping too deep, is a sure fire way to instigate a platform to play. Do that right, and it's a level playing field, anything can happen. It's unacceptable to be so dominated at home, even with ten players.

Going back to Mesut Ozil, there is no doubt he looks short on confidence at the moment. But tell me how many of the close season, mega-bucks signings, in the top five European leagues, is on fire! Players like these go through an adaptation period that varies with each individual. We should not judge Ozil by work rate alone, or tracking back to defend. His contribution in these aspects can only be supplementary. The German would play better after the world cup, given time to settle down into a new team, style, league, and country. Just because he comes with a huge price tag does not mean he is not human. Gervinho was a laughing stock during his time at the Emirates. Right now, he is playing some of his best football for AS Roma, in Italy, lighting up Serie A. Ozil will play much better when Wenger has put in place elements to support his attributes. Wenger is clever and patient, and he would have recognised that. I am sure Ozil will soon put in a superlative display to stem the rancid criticism. I'll bet on that!