When Arsene Wenger met with the press on Friday morning ahead of the game against Crystal Palace, one of the journalists asked about Mesut Ozil after the German made his 100th Premier League appearance for Arsenal.
Ozil, as standard, has come in for criticism this season, but as I pointed out after the game against West Brom, he is a player that often makes a liar out of your eyes, especially if you’re watching him on TV. In the flesh, he is a different animal entirely.
This season in the league, Ozil has scored five, assisted three, created 45 chances and completed 909 passes, 593 of which were forward. For comparison, Philppe Coutinho, who has been hailed all season for his pure magnificence, has five goals, five assists, has created 33 chances and completed 547 passes with 410 going forward. It’s not really Mesut’s fault his teammates aren’t putting away the chances he makes, is it?
Anyway, here’s what Arsene had to say about Ozil.
“He is of course a huge player, I always defended him here in press conferences because I believe that.
“He has improved his commitment, physically he works much harder than people think he does but as well I believe this season he has scored more goals.
“Personally I believe as well he creates more chances for himself than ever before because he runs more behind and I still think there is a gap between his potential finishing and the way he finishes.
“In training he finishes much better than in the games and I’m convinced his percentage of finishing will go up in the coming months and he can have a huge contribution to the team, not only through his passing but also through his finishing.
“He works hard but I think he had one or two games this season where he was frustrated, the one that comes to mind is the Manchester City game where he was criticised afterwards but if you look at the overall contribution for me it has been absolutely fantastic.”