Spaniard sets the standard for Gunners’ disappointing record signing.
After a masterful man-of-the-match display for Arsenal in what the club will hope is a turning point victory away to Manchester City this weekend, Santi Cazorla has now set the standard for his under-performing team-mate Mesut Ozil to follow in the Gunners’ midfield.
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It’s strange to compare the two players, both formerly big names in La Liga, one joining for a fee believed to be less than £15m (says the BBC Sport article at the time), and one for a club-record £42.5m from Real Madrid.
There’s no doubt that while Cazorla was seen as a step in the right direction for Arsenal after years of signing unproven youngsters, Ozil was the true ‘marquee’ signing, and a statement of intent from the north Londoners that they could compete with the big boys in the transfer market.
And yet, there’s no question that so far Cazorla has proven the better buy for Arsenal. The classy Spaniard made an instant impact at the Emirates Stadium, scoring 12 goals in his first season with the club and showing he had the energy and work rate to be a success in English football. Now 30, he is a senior figure in Arsene Wenger’s team and has shone in a slightly deeper, more central role for the side this term.
Against City, Cazorla was both sublime going forward, getting a goal and assist and generally orchestrating everything good the Gunners did on the day, but also tracked back tirelessly to help out his midfield and defence. It was the complete performance, perhaps the best of his career in the Premier League, and it came in a big game when Wenger’s record in such fixtures had come under intense scrutiny.
Ozil, meanwhile, has looked lazy and languid in his time with Arsenal, resting on a far more hyped up reputation from starring alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and numerous other Galacticos at Real Madrid. It is almost as though the German international feels he has little to prove after his earlier successes, and that he doesn’t need to work hard or adapt his game to hit top form for his new club.
Still, he is in a very different position at Arsenal than he was at Real.
His assist statistics cannot be boosted by having Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to aim at; he cannot be a luxury player who gets subbed off 20 minutes before the end of a comfortable victory.
Yes, there is a different kind of pressure playing at a club with a history like Real’s, but Ozil doesn’t seem to have accounted for having to become one of his side’s most important players.
For £42.5m, the 26-year-old should be running the show like Cazorla did yesterday, but it is hard to imagine him having the character to do so. Where Cazorla stepped up against Joe Hart to put away the crucial opening goal from the penalty, Ozil has missed both spot-kicks he has taken in his time with Arsenal, and he has been a huge disappointment in their big games.
When Arsenal finally ended their long wait for silverware last season, it was Cazorla who got a goal and an assist in the FA Cup final, a game that Ozil was a mere passenger in throughout.
Wenger spoke after the City game about Cazorla’s passion, and it is a lack of just that which the under-motivated Ozil needs to rediscover if he is to harness the obvious talent that earned him his big reputation prior to moving to Arsenal.
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