Player Profile - Mesut Ozil

The Resurgence of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil

Personal information
Full name: Mesut Ozil
Date of birth: 15 October 1988 
Age: 27
Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen, West Germany
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club information
Current team: Arsenal
Number: 11

Youth career
1995–1998: Westfalia 04 Gelsenkirchen
1998–1999: Teutonia Schalke-Nord
1999–2000: Falke Gelsenkirchen
2000–2005: Rot-Weiss Essen
2005–2006: Schalke 04

Senior career
2006–2008: Schalke 04 39 Appearances, 1 goal
2008–2010 Werder Bremen 106 Appearances, 17 goals 
2010–2013 Real Madrid 159 Appearances, 27 goals 
2013– Arsenal 87 Appearances, 14 goals 

National team
2006–2007 Germany U19 11 Appearances, 4 goals 
2007–2009 Germany U21 16 Appearances, 5 goals 
2009– Germany 70 Appearances, 18 goals

It is increasingly clear Mesut Ozil has grown as a player, has a full tank of this confidence and has come to realise he could lead Arsenal to something special this year. Ozil always had the nice touches and flair, but he is now working hard and covering more of the pitch. He is happy and settled and has a platform to prove he belongs to be mentioned among the very best footballers in the world. Ozil is used to expectations being high. When he arrived at Arsenal in the summer of 2013, he instantly became the most expensive player in the club’s history. That’s a significant burden to bear, and it means his performances have been the subject of constant analysis. Lesser players would crumble under the strain. 

In the two seasons since Ozil's arrival, he has been something of an enigma at Arsenal; the German is a wonderfully gifted player, but one who has too often failed to show it when it matters. There were some goals, some assists and consecutive FA Cup triumphs at Wembley, as well as a World Cup won on his summer holidays to Brazil in 2014. Ozil’s gifts naturally won him admirers, but he looked a typical Arsenal player, emblematic of the second half of Wenger’s reign at the club: a pretty player, easy on the eye but occasionally too weak and neither consistent nor clinical enough. But all that appears to have changed this season. Finally, Arsenal might be able to boast the player they thought they were buying in 2013—a player capable of being the catalyst for the real trophies. It’s his creativity that marks him out as a special player.  Of course, everyone recognises that Ozil should score more often. He has the technical skill to beat most goalkeepers, but it seems he struggles for conviction in front of goal. When a player is signed for a huge fee, fans understandably want them to make their impact felt against rival clubs, proving the difference in otherwise close encounters. Until now, Ozil has struggled to make his presence felt in showpiece occasions. However, against the Man United faithful in particular now know firsthand what he is capable of after scoring one and assisting one against the Red Devils. There remains room for improvement, however, Ozil is still coming up short in most physical confrontations. Nonetheless, he is an impressive athlete, quicker and stronger than many would suggest. During his time on the sidelines last season, he bulked up significantly. Now he needs to gain the mental attitude required to make the most of his physical gifts. He’s never going to be Francis Coquelin, but being a little more robust would allow him to influence games more than he already does.

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In the second part of last season, we saw the intelligence of his passing, the fact that he added some steel to his game was needed certainly in the Barclays Premier League. And if he keeps this up, he can be one of the stand out players of the season. This, after all, is a player who has won the World Cup. There’s little dispute that he’s one of the most naturally gifted footballers in the Premier League, and after two years of acclimatisation, he should now be in a position to translate that talent into tangible contributions on the field. That being said, anyone expecting him to start the campaign like a house on fire will have been disappointed. Ozil underwhelmed on the opening day against West Ham United, looking distressingly like the fragile figure we saw for much of the first half of last season. However, since then, his progress has largely followed an upward trajectory, with performances making a steady improvement. 

Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Everton confirmed Ozil's status as the king of assists in the Premier League. The cross for Giroud's goal came from Ozil, who provided his seventh assist before adding two more against Swansea last weekend which now stands at nine - the most in the EPL. It also means that the Arsenal playmaker has the best rate for assists in the competition's history, providing one every 2.71 matches. This is not an opinion. This is not one of those theories that can be waved away with one of the many anti-Ozil catchphrases regularly heard during conversations about Arsenal's chief playmaker."Yeah, but he doesn't work hard enough". "Yeah, but he never does it in big games". It is a fact – a stat that proves just how great the German really is - 23 assists in 58 Arsenal games, dethroning Man United legend Eric Cantona, who registered 56 assists in 156 Premier League games (an average of one every 2.79 games). The idea that Ozil could still get better is a tantalising prospect for the Arsenal fans. The season is still young. If the German playmaker can find the fighting spirit to pair with his undeniable skill, the heights in which he can take Arsenal is beyond measure.