Last week’s Bayern Munich Champions League clash could be described as a roller coaster ride of emotion. If you were Ron Burgundy, and happened to be watching from inside a pay-phone booth, you would have said you were “IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!” After earning a penalty, Mezut Ozil stepped up to the penalty spot with every Arsenal fan thinking, “that’s why we paid $42.5 million dollars for him.” With one poorly taken penalty, that theory changed to “what a waste of $42.5 million dollars.”
We live in a society where no one can see past the current moment they’re in, especially in sports. It’s created an incredibly fickle mentality. The fickle fan has replaced the fan who once preached their unconditional love for their team. Living near New York and being a Giants fan, I’m very used to this sort of fandom. However, everyone needs to just pump the breaks for a minute and lay-off of the quick fire doubting towards Mezut Ozil.
Let’s take a second to look at the big picture here. We would not be in the position we are in if we did not sign Mezut Ozil. Besides the obvious boost of confidence his signing gave the club and the fans, he has had a huge impact on the field so far this season. He has started 30 games and has come on as a sub another 2 times. Ozil, as widely reported, is one who has regularly been given rest in many of his previous seasons. He has been rotated as many Germans have who play out of country because in Germany they get a very long winter break. They don’t play as many games as those in the Premier League or other leagues. The man is starting to get burnt out and I’m happy Wenger gave him some time to rest as he should come back fresh and with a fire under his butt.
He has created 81 scoring chances in 32 appearances so far this season (stats via squawka.com). He has scored 5 goals and had 11 assists in all competitions (stats via espnfc.com). He’s also suffered 34 fouls against which means he’s given us 34 free kicks. These are very good stats by anyone’s standards.
Going back to the Bayern game, let’s just make a few things clear. Did the penalty miss kill all of our positive momentum in the game? Yes it did. Were we in total control up until that point? Yes we were. Should he have taken that horrible stutter step approach? No he shouldn’t have. But let’s not forget, to earn that penalty he gave us a moment of class only matched by the best in the world.
Faking the shot with his stronger left foot knowing he had a defender ready to jump at him, he then pulled what looked like an effortless cut back knowing he would be fowled with the defenders back leg. He earned us a penalty any Arsenal fan would have only dreamed of in a game that big. He has missed penalties earlier in the year as well, so my question is why was he still taking them? Wenger said publicly he doesn’t like the way Ozil takes his penalties, but he let him take arguably the biggest penalty of the year so far!? Doesn’t quite add up. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I think there were better options to take the penalty than him.
Wenger stated today (via Arsenal.com) that Ozil would be back in the team this weekend when we travel to Stoke. After a much needed break I think he will have a great game. Ozil’s national team coach Joachim Loew has given him his backing to recover his form and I think he will. Ozil is a world class player and the critics shouldn’t be so quick to forget that. We will be reminded that the words respected men around the game have uttered for years ring true… “Form is temporary, class is permanent.”