Ray Wilkins believes that Mesut Ozil should only play home games for Arsenal.
The pundit has decided that Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is evidence that Arsenal are better off without the German when they play away from home.
His reasoning, of course, comes down to Ozil’s perceived work rate and defensive aptitude.
This is a common criticism of Ozil and one that’s been discussed to death. However, Wilkins has taken it a step further by suggesting that Ozil is so useless away from home he should only play in home matches.
“I don’t think he will get back in the team. The way Wenger set things out at Stamford Bridge – he did it remarkably well,” Wilkins said, as reported by The Metro.
“I would only play Ozil at the Emirates, personally. Away from home, you have to fight and you have to fight to eleven. You can’t fight as ten.
“Ozil is a wonderfully gifted footballer, don’t get me wrong. I love him to pieces, but you have to work for the team.
“When you lose the ball – get yourself back and start working the for team. If you look at the team on Sunday, they were fantastic. They had a fantastic work ethic.
“(Granit) Xhaka never left the front of the back four, (Aaron) Ramsey went off and did what he did – they didn’t play Sanchez, they didn’t play Ozil and it worked.
“Ozil has to conform to what’s happening with the team. As an attacking force, he’s wonderful but when you lose the ball, you need to lose it as eleven, not ten and that’s what happens.”
There are a few things wrong with Wilkins’ assessment.
On a logical level, Wilkins doesn’t realise that not every game is the same. He’s suggesting that every away game requires fight, but in reality Arsenal have had, and will continue to have, easy away trips that don’t require anywhere near the work Chelsea away does.
Similarly, not every home game is a stroll for Arsenal. Arsenal have to defend and fight at home, too. Perhaps it’s not as noticeable because Arsenal tend to be favourites at home, but it’s no less true.
Maybe Ozil doesn’t defend as much as should do when we go away to a tough teams, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t defend whenever those teams visit the Emirates.
Furthermore, he’s clearly not looked at the stats.
This season, Ozil covered 21.6km in home matches against Leicester and Bournemouth. He covered an identical amount in the away games at Stoke and Liverpool.
Additional stats from Opta also suggest that Arsenal concede more and score fewer per games when Ozil isn’t in the team. For a liability, he sure does have an impact on Arsenal’s chances of winning a game.
Ultimately, the Chelsea game is just one match, and 90 minutes is nowhere near a big enough sample size to conclude that Arsenal are better off without Ozil in certain games.