It was Mesut Ozil’s fourth anniversary as a Gooner yesterday and the midfielder used the occasion to take a swipe at his detractors in the media.
The Germany international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has endured criticism about the consistency of his performances throughout his time at the Emirates with some of the most pointed comments coming from former Arsenal players working in the media. The likes of Thierry Henry and Martin Keown were particularly scathing about the 28-year-old following the 4-0 defeat at Anfield last weekend.
In a statement presumably prepared with the help of his PR people, the World Cup issued a rallying cry to those with Arsenal connections calling on them to support the team despite their poor start to the new Premier League season.
It’s September 2nd, 2017. I’m with the German National team right now, and yesterday we took a big step towards the World Cup in Russia after beating Czech Republic 2-1. During the last couple of days my DFB teammates have been asking me about how everything is at Arsenal at the moment. They claimed to have read about the current crisis through the media, as pundits and former players are commenting on a daily basis. They say that this could be the worst team in years, even decades.
I’m writing this text together with people that are close to me, and we’ve got something to celebrate. Although no match was won, or trophy was lifted today, Arsenal and I are celebrating our anniversary! Four years ago I was transferred in a last minute deal from Real Madrid to Arsenal – Arsène Wenger convinced me. He told me about the great history of this club, about its living legends such as Bergkamp, Vieira and Pirès, who owe a large part of their success to the manager. Arsène told me how he would help me to develop as a player, and this is something every player wants to hear, as it is great encouragement.
Although I initially struggled when coming to the Premier League, I accepted the challenge. I started as a left-winger at the beginning, and in all honestly, I am not a great admirer of that position for myself – I’m better as a ‘number 10’. When playing in the centre I can control the game and generate chances. The Premier League is physically much more demanding then La Liga or the Bundesliga. 1-1 draws are much tougher, and the smaller clubs also have very strong teams that can easily catch you out. Furthermore, there is no winter break, meaning the season is extremely long and exhausting, especially when you are playing at European and National Team level too.
We have achieved a lot in our four years together. Three of the 13 FA Cup victories have been accomplished in the past four years, with the other ten taking 75 years for the club to win. This is in addition to our three Community Shield wins. After all, six titles in four years is quite something. However, this only makes myself and the team even more disappointed for not playing a role in the title race at the end of last season – this is something we hope to change this year.
Personally I’ve had to accept a lot of criticism during my time in London. ‘Too expensive, too greedy, bad body language, and lacking fight’ – this is what people have said about me. Some of these comments are made by those who do not know me, some are made by former players – both successful and unsuccessful during their time here at the club. Although criticism is something that all football players have to deal with, I nevertheless expected legends to behave like legends – my advice to these former Gunners: stop talking and start supporting!
I would like to thank all the Gooners that have always supported me and believed in me. When I leave the Emirates after a game, I see the fans standing along the street cheering. When I’ve played well, I hear you sing my song, and this makes me incredibly proud, giving me goosebumps every time. I have been privileged enough to have met both Brendan and Charlie. They support the club despite their illness, and their strength and positive messages constantly motivate me. Moreover, I’m thankful for all the other personal relationships I’ve made over the past four years.
Even though I personally do not know how my career will continue after this year, I look forward to my fifth season with Arsenal. This is because Arsenal is a great club with great people and great traditions. I am glad to be able to wear your shirt, Gooners. I’ve had so many great moments in the last four years and I really appreciate what this club means to the people of London, the UK and all over the world.
Hopefully, in six days time, we’ll see this level of combativeness from Ozil on the pitch against Bournemouth. We certainly need some spike if we’re going to get ourselves out of the current mess.