Wenger: Ozil’s style doesn’t mean he wants it less


Arsene Wenger has defended Mesut Ozil after the German was once again the subject of intense criticism in the wake of the 2-0 defeat in the North London derby.

Like every Arsenal player on the pitch, the 28 year old was short of his best, but not everybody comes with a £42m price-tag, and there was some focus on him throughout the week.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Man Utd, the Arsenal manager defended his record signing, saying, “I believe to just criticise Mesut Ozil’s performance does not reflect exactly what happened.

“Recently he has put a lot of effort in. He was a bit, like the rest of the team, not physically at his best.

“His style is more fluid, less ­aggressive, but it doesn’t mean you want it less than others.

“His style is his style and what you measure with Mesut Ozil is the ­efficiency. His basic ­quality is retention and the creation of goal chances.

“Overall the big players get more criticised than the others, they have to carry the responsibility of the team.”

Earlier in the week, Ozil himself rejected criticism which said he didn’t work hard enough.

“There will always be criticism and there will always be praise,” he said. “But what matters is what the manager tells me.

“I have said that numerous times. But what I can’t understand is when people say: ‘Look, he does not push anymore’ or ‘He does not run enough’.

“If you look at my numbers you can see I run a lot and I show a good attitude.”

Of course the best way to answer the critics would be to put in a display which helps us defeat his old manager on Sunday, when Man Utd come to the Emirates.

Check out this week’s Arsecast, for more on United, mental health in football and lots more

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57 Comments on "Wenger: Ozil’s style doesn’t mean he wants it less"

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But this is England and running about a lot to no discernible purpose is far more important than talent. Generations of England midfielders can’t be wrong. Just look at how they’ve made us a world footballing power.



Just drop deeper and deeper then and go hiding that way

Good player wrong team or wrong manager


I would argue right player, right team, but a few others to support and allow him to work his role are not.


As a player of his quality sometimes you need to look at yourself and admit your form just hasn’t been good enough since the New Year

Stringer Bell

It must be hard when players like Theo Ox Ramsey Giroud coq bellerin welbeck are not technically good enough and intelligent enough to keep the ball.

Heavenly Chapecoense

This concept that there are players who have no responsibility in their team’s failure and others are not good enough really really gets on my nerves. One of the reasons other players underperform is that they have to play in a system that doesn’t suit them to accommodate Ozil. Who can say that Ozil is part of top 10 players in the league this year? Somebody made himself a name in previous years and shouldn’t have to prove anything anymore ?


How then, does that make it the right team?

Bob\'s Mexican Cousin
Bob\'s Mexican Cousin

That’s why England sp*rs it every time they play at a major event. They play for the media not for the country.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Spurs were too satisfied for having won North London derby. They felt they could just show up and win. Hope we win the FA cup and them the curse for being eliminated at CL group stage.

The Loon Ranger

I keep expecting Arsene to give a mad professor type laugh after these soundbites. The players are a liitle bit short of confidence and fitness hahahahahahahahaha


Not doing your defensive work and not trying to tackling the opposition is seen as not being “part of his style”.

No one had any problems showing up Walcott bottling tackles last year but when it’s Ozil it’s ok because it’s not in his style.


I disagree that tackling and nipping at the opposition’s ankles like adrenalin-fuelled Liverpudlian terriers are the only ways to defend. Spectacular, yes. Effective, usually. But not the only ways.

If you spend much time watching Ozil’s movement and play, both with and without the ball, you begin to see he excels at two methods of defending that usually go unnoticed by press and pundits:

He retains possession and to very high percentage finds a smart pass, even under pressure. The first rules of defence are keep the ball and if you do lose it, don’t give it away cheaply. Something others in the squad, like Sanchez and Ramsey, are far more glaringly guilty of. But they tackle and harry, so appear to be more defensively effective.

Secondly, in the same way that Ozil seems to find the best option for a pass – the pass that gives the receiver of the pass another good option – he is brilliant at denying the man he’s defending the best option, by the way he positions himself and controls the angles to cut out the most dangerous pass in a given situation.

His positional play tends to be very good in defence, which demands a lot of clever but not very obvious effort.

Donald\'s Trump

Yep. And ducking under every single header. But it’s ok because Arsene says it’s ok so why would he bother.


Clearly many disagree with the Walcott comparison. I’d be interested to hear any counterarguments in addition to the barrage of downvotes.


Both have such a different playing style and footballing intelligence. Ozil does way more when on the ball than walcott. And his positional sense most of the time without the ball helps in most dangerous passes from happening. In case of walcott, only thing he knows is to run like a freight train with or without the ball. So in his case, its an expectation that he does that when he has to defend.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Totally agree with you. Like those who care about truth.


Doesn’t want it less but isn’t prepared to work so hard

Me So Hornsey

Off topic but I’d just like to share this little joke:

Tottenham’s title challenge.

Thank you.


61 never again lol

Lord Bendnter

I hadn’t read your comment and decided to post a comment regarding this too, and to think that I also started mine with the same two words!! I think I might be in the Illuminati

The Loon Ranger

The well known beer Spursy bottled in North London


This is laughable. We’re just happier If SPUDS lose or can’t win title instead of focusing in our failures. I don’t give damn if they win or lose I just want Arsenal to triumph and play good football. At the moment, they’re far better than us period. Change is needed.


I recommend both….laugh at sp*rs for sp*rsing it up again and worry about our failures.

“One year does not carry the weight of twenty”
– Arsene Wenger.


For me it’s a small club mentality to celebrate Spurs loss when they have mounted a better title challenge than us in how many years?? With a significantly smaller budget. we are arsenal we should be celebrating our victories and title challenges not evolving into haters.

Lack of Perspective

They also mounted a better challenge last year. Till we finished above them.

The world is a strange place.

Andy Mack

It’s the same with AC Milan and Inter Milan, Roma & Lazio, Tourino and Juve, Man City and Man Utd, A Madrid and R Madrid, Dortmund and Schalke, and loads more local teams.
Nothing to do with Big or Small teams.
It’s about local rivalries.

Ex-Priest Tobin

Ozil is not cut out for the EPL. I’d be very happy if we recover 50% of his price, time to sell and rebuild. P.S. the title of his book is laughable.

Bob\'s Mexican Cousin
Bob\'s Mexican Cousin

We can be a fickle lot can’t we?

Ozil actually does less tackling and running for Germany and looks a far better player than when he plays for us. That’s what having competent teammates does to him.


Really, what the hell is up with Ozil?

Everyone knows he’s not a tough tackling midfielder, I don’t think anyone expects him to be that.

What we do expect is that he does what he’s good at, but he’s been virtually anonymous. He’s obviously a quality talent but he looks like he’s run out of ideas or he doesn’t know how to impose himself on the game. His play is predictable and slow at the moment, cutting back on his left foot every single time.

I know there’s plenty of mitigation, for one the rest of the team has been pretty shite too, but even so you gotta expect more from someone of that quality. It’s sad to see him playing like that to be honest…


I agree completely. Far from the only plyer to be underperforming, but it’s much more disappointing from a world class talent. Sad to say, but I can’t help feeling there’s a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes in defence of very many distinctly average performances for Arsenal.

Clive St Helmet

He looks shorn of confidence, but so do the rest of the team. Perhaps not analysing every little thing he does isn’t helping him?


When you are locked on the right, you can’t be efficent on the whole field.

Faisal Narrage

The move to the wing is pretty recent. He’s been ineffective for a lot longer.

I hate this idea that to “run around and work hard” is looked down upon by many Arsenal fans in snobbery. The high press is currently the method used by almost all successful teams, we could do with it. The idea that being a silky pass master and hard worker are mutually exclusive is something said by Arsenal fans. You know it’s possible to be both, right? Ask Iniesta.

I’m sure it’s frustrating for Ozil to not have other technical players read his movement and give him the ball when he wants it, but that is no excuse to drop your head and go missing like he so often does.

And sadly, if you’re only effective under the perfect conditions you want, then like it or not, that is near enough the definition of a luxury player.


I think our strikers are not up to scratch. Welbeck, Theo, Giroud are not consistent enough. This team has poor balance and this is why we aren’t playing well. Teams know that if you take ozil and sanchez out the game, you’ll probably beat Arsenal. Other players need to step up to mind fuck other teams’ tactics.

Kwame Ampadu Down

Let’s accept how workrate isn’t an issue and that he can’t find passes because his teammates aren’t good enough…(I don’t necessarily agree with either statement but for the sake of argument)….neither of them are my big issue with Ozil. My issue is his finishing in big games. He’s had fantastic chances to score v Chelsea, Bayern, Man City (& others I’m sure) & not taken them every time. Not only not taken them but his efforts have been so poor that for a player so technically brilliant, it has to be mental. For 250/300k a week you ned to be a killer in this big moments on big games. Ozil just isn’t.

Kwame Ampadu Down

I am a rubbish typer on my phone !

Stringer Bell

You mean like the goal he scored against Chelsea this season and Bayern last season. That sort of every time.

Kwame Ampadu Down

We were 2-0 up & cruising v Chelsea and 1-0 up v Bayern in injury time. And both of them were first time hits. I don’t think that’s the same as having to think about having a big chance for yourself at a big moment & keeping your cool like elite, top players do.
I like Ozil, don’t get me wrong. He’s just not an elite player we should pay the money he’s asking for imo….

Donald\'s Trump

My issue is he doesn’t jump when the ball is in the air but instead ducks like a pansy.


Mess his hair up if he headed it

Lord Bendnter

Off topic: That moment you just won a derby and are flying sky high with confidence with a real shot at silverware, but then your dreams get shattered by a second ‘low-key’ derby on a Friday

Mesut O\'Neill

I’m sorry but in his whole Arsenal career when has Ozil ever imposed himself or been a key factor against quality opposition.

It’s all good & well doing it against Ludogorets but he consistently goes missing in vital games.

Maybe he is a good player but apart from a 5 month spell 2 seasons ago when has he ever shown it at Arsenal. Too many “fans” give him way too much credit just because of his name.

Lord Nicki B

Look up the stats before you criticise, he’s run more 10 km games than Alexis this season.


Means fuck all

Where its he running?
How many assists does he have compared to alexis? Goals too

Faisal Narrage

And Alexis has more goals and assists, and id bet more tackles and attempt at tackles too.

This whole “he’s run 10k” has become such a red herring. Reminds me of the days of “Denilson has 90% pass completion” and “Arshavin makes 4 changes per game”.


Jesus H Christ how many articles on this do we need? The Graun ran another 2 days ago too. Fucking drivel.

Monkey Nuts

All I can say is read Tim Stillman’s latest piece for excellent analysis on team construction and how certain square players don’t fit in the round holes system. Wenger should read it.


He’s been a manager for over 30 years and made over 2000 subs.

Doesn’t seem like it

Lights are on but no ones at home


Özil in april: 1 goal, 1 assist against West Ham, the winning goal against Middlesbrough, the winning assist to Mustafi against City. And the attacks go on?
I’m tired of it, truly What does “big player” mean? Then he can take all the critics, while “small players” can do what they want and lose half of their passes (yes, Ox!)!


Exactly! If others are losing the ball regularly then it doesn’t matter how much world class creativity Ozil has. Only option then would be to do a Messi and dribble through all opponents. Which no one should expect. Besides I have not seen anyone point out some amazing runs he makes on the right but no one notices it and gives a long ball from Midfield.


Agreed, Alex. Özil is a fabulous quality player, but needs a Santi to be effective. (Not Ramsey nor Coq.)

Little Mozart

As a big Mesut Özil fan, I watch him the most when we play and it’s clear to see that he is putting in as much effort as Alexis, but the way that Özil falls apart when he gets into the final third on his own is disheartening. Just put your foot through the ball! Style goes out the window when you’re one-on-one with a keeper.


There are players who are great on their own. And there are players who need others to be good to be great. Sadly for us, ozil is someone who needs others. Why do you Alexis and ozil work so well together? We need more such players. Wenger’s mistake was the English core. No one has kicked on from the potential they have shown. I read somewhere that Alexis s biggest disappointment is that the players aren’t playing to their potential. And whether that is true or not I feel that explains my feelings succinctly. For the first time in years we had a squad to win things. The hardest part isn’t saying that the squad is shit. It is admitting that this squad could have won easily. They spoke about sport psychology and all that crap when we were winning. Wonder where that went when we started bottling it.


Ox and Alexis coughed up the ball 20 times each in the NLD and Ramsey wasn’t far behind them, but that’s OK, I suppose it’s Mesut’s fault. And please don’t try to tell me it’s because they try to make things happen, because lame passes to nowhere isn’t trying to make things happen. Mesut covers a lot of ground getting into spaces, he gives his teammates an outball and sees the moves that should be happening, but most of the time his teammates don’t see him and there’s no movement ahead of him, so what’s he supposed to do? Mesut is a winner and he’s looking more frustrated all the time, and he’s copping the blame that others around him should be getting.


He’s shit. Dropping deeper and deeper to hide and make easy passes

Look at hazard. Fuck me that boy will work his tail off compared to mesut jogging back into position

a different George

I understand that Ozil divides opinion. But do you honestly believe he is “shit?” If you don’t, then why say it? If you do believe it, then, I am sorry, you do not understand anything about football.

By the way, go back and watch how hard Hazard worked last year.


Spurs are nothing to laugh at. They are likely to win the Second Best Trophy this season which guarantees CL football which means it is every bit as good as the 4th place trophy the media likes to make a big meal about.

We have what an FA cup possibly. It doesn’t give us CL football.

yeah sure it may be the 7th time we’ll win it and we make the history books (again) and Wenger will be the most successful in that competition and its about prestige… but CL?

City have blown away Palace so they look unlikely for us to catch given goal differential. Liverpool might possibly leave us a slight gap but they are after tomorrow’s game against Soton two games remaining in league. And United we have to hope we take the points tomorrow.

Its going to be a lot more difficult in the summer otherwise.

We either have to compromise on quality or pay more for equivalent with CL.

And we know Arsenal prefers not to spend more which runs the risk that we won’t be buying enough again.

IMO we keep one of Ozil or Alexis. We should be prepared to risk one running down on contract which seems to be the noise coming out of Wenger.

Of the two, I’d keep Alexis because he adds the dynamism the team needs particularly when it isn’t performing.

He is prone to his own set of faults of course. Alexis loses the ball too often and his passing can be poor but OTOH, you can’t discourage his take ons too much either so clearly a balance has to be struck.

OTOH Ozil protects the ball better and uses it well but my gripe with him is he tends not to dig you out of a hole if the team is playing poorly where as Alexis can. Ozil plays well when the team is playing well or maybe it is also a bit of the reverse.

That said, I think whether Ozil stays as an important asset to us (which he is…I can think of far less useful players) will probably be dependent on his potential suitors in the summer.

IF they remain the likes of Fernebache and China (and ironically his form may secure him to us), we are likely to see him sign the extension.

I think several older players know if the gaffer extends, it will be for short duration. They are at the point where they have one more big move to earn and they may stay on a year or so if offers tabled are not attractive. Like the gaffer, it will afford them the transitional period to regain some stock in market.