Last Christmas, people wondered if Mesut Ozil was really getting a winter break. We looked into it to see if there was any truth, this is what we found, updated for 2018/19.

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SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal ahead of the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC at St Mary’s Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

In Spain and Germany, the leagues take a couple of weeks off in winter. As a result, players are accustomed to having some time off mid-season.

When those players then move to the Premier League, they don’t get a break. In fact, England pile on extra fixtures around Christmas and New Year.

Some people say Özil (or the club) feigns injury around this time every year, so he can have some time off.

We want to establish to whether there’s anything to the rumour.

Here are the days Arsenal have lost the German each season in December and January:

Shoulder injury from 29th December – 1st January. 2 games missed.

Özil ruptured a knee ligament in October and didn’t make it back until January. Technically he missed every festive game, but he wasn’t playing before that anyway. You can’t take a break if you aren’t playing.

No injuries over the festive period. The German did miss one league game on January 17th, but played three in eight days between 26th December and 2nd January.

Illness from 1st January – 3rd January. 2 games missed.

Özil’s knee issues make him miss the New Year’s Eve match against West Brom. He then plays Chelsea, but misses the 14th January match against Bournemouth. This is a recurrence of a knee problem that’s affected the 29-year-old all season. The injury caused him to miss multiple matches, home and away, big teams and small.

6. 2018/19

Another knee injury struck for the German after the Brighton game on Boxing day that he was involved in, keeping him out of the games against Liverpool, Fulham and Blackpool. In December he missed four games, but only one of those came over the Xmas period.

7. Conclusion

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might just about have enough evidence here to put a case together.

In 2014/15 and 2015/16 there’s no evidence of anything close to a winter break, so those seasons don’t help so you’d be best not mentioning them.

The other four years, the German missed a couple of games each time. Not two weeks’ worth, just a few games, but that should be enough evidence for someone only looking for the bare minimum as proof.

But I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

The more sensible explanation is that Özil’s body just isn’t used to playing so many games. He’s not feigning injury to get a rest, nor are the club giving him one beyond normal rotation.

He’s getting injured by working himself too hard.

Draw your own conclusions, but that’s ours.

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