Mesut Özil has, once again, been picked out by pundits as the reason why Arsenal didn’t win a match.
This time, the match in question was Arsenal’s game against Stoke City, where Mesut was part of a side that lost 1-0 despite having 77% of the possession and 18 shots.
The question is what exactly Özil is being blamed for.
The goal couldn’t possibly be put on him. Granit Xhaka gave the ball away and Stoke quickly countered, cutting through the Arsenal defence so quickly and easily that Mesut and the rest of the forwards had no chance to get back and help.
Besides, since Özil is playing as a forward, the most important thing is surely what he does in the opposition half. Mesut is known for his passing, chance creation and ability to drop a shoulder and beat a man. All of these attributes were on show at the weekend.
Mesut’s passing was at its usual high level, with 93% of his attempted passes reaching their intended targets. Arsenal’s average was just 88%, despite the fact that Özil played his passes in more difficult areas, mostly in the Stoke’s defensive third.
In the two Premier League matches so far Özil has created 10 chances, not one of which have been converted by Arsenal forwards. Four of these chances were created in the Stoke match, which was a third of the total chances created by the Gunners on the day, and more than any other player on the pitch.
As for the suggestion that his head dropped and he stopped trying after the goal, this is nonsense. 3/4 of Mesut’s chances were created after Jesé scored, as he tried to get the Gunners back into the game.
Özil also completed 75% of his take-ons, completing more than anyone else on the team except Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The German playmaker did his job on the day, and if any of the chances he made had been converted by players who didn’t do their part, then I wouldn’t be writing this article.
But for those who don’t believe the stats and have short memories, I’ll leave you with a video of the player in action, and you can judge for yourself.
Mesut Özil vs. Stoke City – liability or scapegoat?
Judge for yourself… pic.twitter.com/mlr8IyY4Um
— Gooner Talk (@GoonerTalk) August 20, 2017