Mesut Özil netted his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign during a comfortable away victory over Stoke this past weekend.
Unsurprisingly, his performance earned him a place in Garth Crooks’ BBC Team of the Week, alongside team-mate Alexis Sánchez and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus in a fearsome trio.
Here’s what he said, in full:
“A lot has been said about Mesut Ozil. Love him or hate him – and I love him – there is no denying he is a wonderful footballer. Is he in the right team? Probably not. A player with his talent would be more appreciated at a club like Tottenham. Now at this moment I may have Arsenal fans foaming at the mouth at the very thought of Ozil defecting to White Hart Lane but frankly it is a better fit.
“When Sol Campbell decided to move to Arsenal from Spurs it was because the player was desperate to win trophies. A perfectly acceptable position for a professional footballer to take and a fact that Spurs fans have never been able to come to terms with. However, Ozil’s style of football is perfect for Spurs and he has already won things with Arsenal. His overall performance against Stoke, which is always a hard nut to crack, was superb while his goal was sublime.
“Only at Spurs will the fans accommodate players like Ozil. You see, at Spurs it is all about the football while at Arsenal it is all about the winning.”
Garth Crooks’ comments – breakdown
These comments were a surprise but understandable to an extent for a range of different reasons. Firstly, the fact that a player of Özil’s quality has been under-appreciated at Arsenal is true though a genuine shame, based on the German’s playing style and demeanour.
With that being said, Crooks’ comments about him being more appreciated at Spurs can be taken in two different ways. They historically tend to have more tolerance with players than Arsenal, though this is gradually beginning to lessen as Mauricio Pochettino is keen to build a strong base for future seasons and wants to avoid signing inconsistent performers if necessary.
In addition to this, Christian Eriksen is a similar player to Mesut in a creative sense and Spurs fans seemed divided on whether or not to criticise him in the early months of this season, as well as the latter part of last term when it became apparent he wanted a wage increase.
Eriksen doesn't cop enough criticism
Bag lamela all you want but he doesn't hide
Eriksens corners and free kicks have become laughable
— stix n spurs (@deepbluejaws) October 29, 2016
A string of impressive displays ensured supporters rallied around him and the same would potentially happen to Özil if he was make the dreaded switch to Arsenal’s north London rivals. His perceived workrate is a possible issue but statistics go a long way to prove that he covers far more distance than you’d expect and wins possession back frequently, despite an often languid manner off-the-ball.
Spurs have players like Mousa Dembélé and Victor Wanyama who are more than happy to put in a significant defensive shift so Özil would have further creative freedom alongside Dele Alli and the aforementioned Eriksen to provide a constant threat in the final third.
Ultimately, supporters would be prepared to embrace his lack of a heavy defensive presence given how often he creates significant chances in-and-around the box, which is what Crooks has alluded to.
Will never, ever happen though.