Tag Archives: Mesut Özil

Doesn’t score, doesn’t create, can’t defend: What does the Arsenal midfield actually do?

What exactly does the Arsenal midfield do?

One thing they do not do is score goals.

Mesut Ozil (1) and Lucas Torreira (1) are the only midfielders who have contributed a league goal this season.

Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock have all yet to score a league this season.

The problem with Arsenal’s midfield is what else are they actually doing?

Liverpool are running away with the league this season and their midfield contribute little in terms of goals.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson have 3 each, as does Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whilst Fabinho has just one league goal. They are certainly not putting in Frank Lampard of Steven Gerrard type figures.

But there job in the team is not to get forward and score goals.

Jurgen Klopp as a hard working midfield that covers a lot of ground, limiting the opponents chances. They have conceded just 21 goals this season.

A big threat for Liverpool is their full backs.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has 12 in the league this season (2nd most), whilst Andrew Roberston has 7 (9th).

Liverpool use their midfielders to cover the full backs as the bomb forward.

Henderson and Fabinho are often found at right or left back during an attack, whilst Alexander-Arnold is putting in a cross which leads to a goal.

But Arsenal’s midfield does not provide much defensive cover.

Too often this season (and previous seasons) it has been too easy to cut through Arsenal’s midfield, to get at the defence. And when was the last time a midfielder covered his full back when bombing forward? It just does not happen.

So at Arsenal, the midfield does not protect the defence, it also does not score goals.

Barcelona’s peak team that had Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta in it did not provide much cover for the defence, and did not score too many goals.

Between them they average a goal every 13 games for Barcelona.

But what they did is create a lot.

There role in the time was to pass the ball in tight spaces until a gap appeared, which lead to goals for Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa or Neymar. It did not matter that they did not score many when they created so much.

Take Ozil, Xhaka, Torreira, Ceballos, Guendouzi & Willock as a collective.

In 8217 minutes of football, they have scored 2 goals and assisted 7.

That is a goal or assist every 913 minutes.

With 41 goals conceded in 30 games (8th highest), they are clearly also not providing much defensive cover.

So what exactly does Arsenal’s midfield do?


Football should follow Mesut Ozil’s lead and stop supporting sportswashing

Regardless of whether you like Mesut Ozil or not, whether you think he is a waste of space on the pitch and we should get rid, we should all be standing with him over his comments about China.

On Friday, Ozil posted a message on his criticises China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The treatment the Uighur Muslim minority in western China has been labelled as the ‘atrocity of the century’ with reports that up to 3 million people are being held in “modern day” concentration camps.

Leading Uighur activist Rushan Abbas described the situation back in 2018.

“[It is] not just the 3 million people in the concentration camps facing mental and physical torture, forced intense indoctrinations, forced medications, food and sleep deprivation, [but] even the people at large … living outside, are facing a complete surveillance police state.”

The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that between one million and two million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.

The first Uighur camp was built in 2014, and much of the world has turned a blind eye to what is happening. Most of the world are actually unaware of what is happening, with countries across the globe continuing to do business with China in the same way they were doing business with Germany in the late 1930s, despite the first Nazi concentration camp being built in 1933.

It has taken Ozil’s Instagram post to bring the plight of the Turkic ethnic group into the world domain.

Posting the words against the backdrop of the flag of the short-lived East Turkestan republic, an area that is now Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, he called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution” and criticised both China’s crackdown and the silence of Muslims in response. “(In China) Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet,”

In response to Ozil’s comments, China’s state broadcaster CCTV pulled the broadcast of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City.

Ozil has seen his China-based “M10” fan club shut down, his social media accounts blocked and almost all trace of his name removed from Chinese search engine results.

Several Chinese football fan sites have said they will stop posting news related to Ozil, according to the Shanghai-based publication The Paper. A Chinese football simulation game said it would no longer produce Özil player roles or cards.

Fans in China have labelled Ozil a “dirty ant” and posted videos of them burning his shirts.

In a comment that has since been deleted, the editor of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, accused the footballer of essentially calling for global jihad against China. Asking Özil to provide examples of his allegations, Hu wrote: “This man is full of nonsense. Does he just want to encourage global jihad, using Xinjiang as an excuse?”

Ozil has been brave standing up to what he clearly feels are human rights breaches that are currently being ignored by the global community.

China’s record on human rights is one of the worst in the world. Like many other countries with poor records, they have been attempting to use sport to improve its reputation in something that is known as sportswashing.

From the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing through to Qatar 2022, sportswashing is becoming more common as authorities and clubs put aside their morals and values to sell their sport to the highest bidder.

Last weekend saw the world title heavyweight clash between anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s relatively sudden interest in sports can be construed as a soft power tactic to help distract from the kingdom’s ongoing human rights abuses and the Yemen crisis.

The kingdom has hosted the Race of Champions (ROC) motorsport event, secured a long-term deal with the WWE that includes multiple shows a year, hosted boxing events headlined by stars like Amir Khan, hosted a PGA European Tour golf event.

Azerbaijani is another nation using sport as a distraction from what is actually happening in their country.

Despite human rights infringements, a lack of press freedom, a clear threat of terrorism and Azerbaijan being labelled as “not free”; the likes of UEFA, the IAAF and the FIA have all awarded Azerbaijan major events in recent years, including the recent Europa League final.

Back to Ozil and China, clubs across Europe have turned a blind eye to human rights issues for a long time. They chase money agreeing to play friendlies in China, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Every club should now stand with Ozil over his comments. Stand with the Uighur Muslim’s, stand with those who have been detained, killed elsewhere across the globe for having a different religion, race or sexuality.

Amnesty International recently called for “clubs – the coaches, players, and backroom staff – to use their considerable influence to press for greater recognition of human rights.”

Ozil is in the right highlighting a human rights issue in China. Imagine how much more powerful the message would be if, following China’s boycott of Arsenal, the Premier League stood together as one and boycotted China.

No more selling TV rights to the country, no more holding money-spinning friendlies there. Not until they have sorted themselves out. Cleaned up their act. Stopped detaining millions for simply following another religion.

Standing together will not happen, however.

Take a look at Manchester City. Current Premier League champions.

The City Football Group, who own the club, Abu Dhabi United Group and a consortium of Chinese state-backed investment firms. Are they really going to take a stand against what is happening in nations across the globe when they are owned by those states committing the atrocities?

Until clubs and the authorities grow a pair and stop selling themselves to the highest bidder, it will be up to the likes of Mesut Ozil to bravely stand on his own and speak up for those who have no voice.

Ozil might polarise support on the pitch, but we should stand with him when it comes to speaking up against human right breaches.

I stand with Ozil.


New (interim) Head Coach – Same Old Performance

Anyone that thought that by simply sacking Unai Emery Arsenal would begin to turn in world beating performances were clearly very naïve.

Freddie Ljungberg had been in temporary charge of the squad for just 2 training sessions prior to the game against Norwich. We saw a few tweets (Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka returning) but overall it was the same players playing the same way under Unai Emery.

What yesterday exposed was the it is not just Emery and his inconsistent tactics and formation that was the problem. The players themselves need to look at their own performances.

For too long many of the players have escaped criticism, with firstly Arsene Wenger and then Unai Emery taking the brunt of fans anger.

Individual players, such as Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka have taken abuse from the fans; but many players have escaped such criticism.

The likes of Alexandre Lacazette have been distinctly average for some time.

Oddly named Arsenal Player of the Season last year following 134 league goals, Lacazette has been extremely inconsistent during his time at the club – 40 goals in 103 games is not a great record. Lacazette is certainly one player who has escaped any sort of criticism.

What is becoming very clear and obvious is that our squad is made up of a lot of players who are either:

  1. Not good enough or;
  2. Not mentally strong enough

In defence we make too many mistakes. This is highlighted by how many penalties we give away.

David Luiz, Mustafi and Sokratis all have a mistake in them. They are all senior internationals. A new manager is not going to suddenly improve them; cut out their error ridden games.

It is the same in midfield.

The centre of the park has been a huge problem for Arsenal in recent years.

Unbalanced with players who can not defend, can not pass, can not drive the ball forward. The fact is if Francis Coquelin was still at the club, he would probably be our best midfielder.

Not in recent memory have we had a midfield that passes the ball so poorly.

Like with the defenders making individual errors, the feeling is the sloppiness of the likes of Granit Xhaka is now ingrained into his game. He is beyond the point where it can be coached out of him.

Simply put, we have too many players who make too many mistakes and no change of manager will make a difference.

These are not young kids who can be coached to improvement – these are senior internationals who are not taking responsibility over their own performances.

When Chelsea won the Champions League, they had a weak coach in Roberto Di Matteo. But they have the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry on the pitch. They had a team of leaders similar to what Arsenal had during the unbeaten season.

The England rugby team had similar in 2007.

Andy Robinson was a poor coach, out of his depth. The senior players got their heads together and drove the team to the final.

Arsenal lack any leaders on the pitch.

Emery’s policy of having multiple leaders makes sense (it is used throughout Europe as well as in cricket and rugby) but it only works it you have actual leaders on the pitch.

There is no point having a senior leadership team if its members are merely members because they are senior, and not because they have any leadership skills.

Regardless of who replaces Unai Emery, things will not change at Arsenal until the players attitudes change.

They either need to step up and take responsibility for their own poor performances or be moved on.