Mesut Ozil has come in for a hefty dose of praise lately. Since his return from injury he’s looked every bit the superstar that Arsene Wenger brought in from Real Madrid. However, like so many players, he’s failed to deliver when it really matters.
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Before Tuesday night’s clash with Monaco, Wenger stated that his players would give “absolutely everything” to secure safe passage into the next round, only he neglected to mention that that didn’t go for the German international as he delivered a lacklustre display that was reminiscent of those that got fans backs up last term.
The £43.5m midfielder was by no means expected to drag the Gunners through the competition on his own, but everybody can be forgiven for expecting slightly more from a player so highly revered.
Ozil has failed to score for Arsenal in the Champions League since his opener against Napoli last term, and against Monaco, the Gunners needed a hero.
In a similar turn from last season’s exit at the hands of Bayern Munich, Ozil simply wasn’t good enough, he didn’t answer the call, and as the side’s record signing he will come in for hasher judgement than the rest.
The stats might show that Ozil covered a lot of ground, which is great, but ultimately pointless when there is no end product, and with the Gunners needing three goals to overturn the deficit, little urgency was seen from the World Cup winner.
Monaco were happy to cede the majority of possession to Arsenal, but Ozil just couldn’t find that killer through ball to set up the attack – which is something he used to do regularly for Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
Before the game Ozil talked the talk, but while his teammates dug in, he remained on the periphery and his only real contribution came in the 52nd minute when his looping free kick required an acrobatic save from Daniel Subasic.
As the game wore on he continued to lose the ball in key areas, as he refused to put in crosses with his weaker foot, instead opting to double back on himself.
Arsene Wenger will no doubt defend him, but as the results show, Arsenal’s Champions League dream is over for another season, and if they really do want to press for honours they cannot afford any passengers.