There can be no doubting the impact that Mesut Ozil’s signing has had on the Arsenal. After the dismal opening day defeat at the hands of the Villains, the atmosphere in the Emirates was toxic. The supporters had lost the faith and Wenger had lost the plot. Le Proffesuers miserly dealings in the transfer market clearly displayed an attitude of giving precedence for the financial gain of the directors over the need for a competitive team for the supporters.
Then Ozil arrived!
Lo and behold, Wenger was a genius of the transfer market. Arsenal were genuine title contenders. The defeat to Villa was forgotten and the fact Arsenal were the most consistent team in the calendar year of 2013 was highlighted. The momentum changed instantly and the atmosphere in the Emirates now reflected hope and expectation, rather than poisonous acrimony and division that was fast becoming cancerous. Ozil took to the field like a swashbuckling conqueror and with magic in his laces he swiftly slew all opponents that came into his path.
For the first three games.
The expectation that he would dominate every game through the whole season was unrealistic and after the initial euphoria his performance level dipped slightly. This reflection of form continued on a subtle but discernible downward trajectory, but still not alarming as he would produce moments of magic that would yield a goal, occasionally from his own boot, but more frequently as an assist. The stats remained buoyant. He scored well in fantasy football after all. How could you argue with that?
Until it came to the heavy December schedule and his lack of form started to become more apparent. He was producing the sublime through balls less and less, and his decision making seemed to be questionable. ‘He needs a rest’ was the cry from the stands. And he got one. On his return his form has been even worse. The return fixture against Villa took his ineptitude to another dimension. In the 1st half in particular every move seemed to break down at his feet. Short simple passes seemed beyond him and his first touch was non- existent. The second half offered a slightly better effort, but only slightly. There is no doubt that if he hadn’t cost a record fee then he would have been withdrawn much earlier in the contest. This is a worrying trend.
Who remembers the euphoria when we signed Arshavin? The diminutive little Russian maestro spurned Barcelona’s overtures to sign for Arsenal and his arrival heralded a new era of European and domestic dominance. His four goals against Liverpool were sublime and unforgettable. The rest was largely forgettable. Unfortunately the man who inherited Arshavins mantle as our record signing and saviour is starting to resemble his predecessor. The touch is deserting him and the effort level is dropping. The body language and gesticulations display a frustration and apathy that the Russian made into an art form.
Is Ozil the new Arshavin……or is he the heir to the real emperor, the iconic and irreplaceable Bergkamp?