Mesut Özil is used as a scapegoat almost every time things aren’t going right for Arsenal, not by the fans or by anyone at the club, but by pundits and the media.
There is a bizarre misconception that the German playmaker is lazy, and there are a number of pundits who blindly stick by this analysis regardless of the facts. Mesut Özil being lazy couldn’t possibly be further from the truth though, as we are about to show you with a number of stats and figures.
Özil’s style of play means you can understand to an extent where the stigma comes from, as he makes everything looks effortless. He often appears incredibly calm and relaxed on the ball, and seems to exert very little energy in his movements. If you watch him for more than five minutes though, you can see just how much effort he’s putting in, and professional pundits should be able to do more than follow the crowd mindlessly in their analysis of a player.
The former Real Madrid star actually puts more effort in than most Premier League players, and the distance he covers each game goes a long way towards proving that.
All the following data is courtesy of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Official Player Rating Index of the Barclays Premier League
|Player||Team||Appearances||Time (Mins)||Distance (km)||Ave Distance per 90mins|
|Samir Nasri||Manchester City||6||236||26.8||10.19|
|Memphis Depay||Manchester United||8||618||69.8||10.15|
|Raheem Sterling||Manchester City||7||544||60.4||9.99|
|Yaya Touré||Manchester City||7||628||67.3||9.64|
These figures show just how much energy our record signing uses each game, and proves that he’s far less ‘lazy‘ than all these pundits suggest. He’s competed in most of our games this season – playing a huge amount of minutes – and has covered more ground on average than most players.
His average distance covered per 90 minutes is more than teammates Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott, more than Manchester United’s Memphis Depay, more than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Oscar, more than Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri, more than Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, and more than a whole host of other Premier League stars.
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When you look at the Arsenal squad, only Aaron Ramsey has realistically covered more ground than him on average – it’s hard to count Mikel Arteta who has barely been on the pitch – which says a huge amount. The Welshman is known for his incredible engine, work-rate, and the distances he covers, so for Özil to be right behind him in the charts is impressive.
|Player||Appearances||Time (Mins)||Distance (km)||Ave Distance per 90mins|
Ramsey more often than not covers the most ground of any Arsenal player, but Özil is the only player to come close, and the only player other than Ramsey to have covered more than 11.7km in one game.
|Player||Team||Opposition||Distance Covered (km)|
|Aaron Ramsey||Arsenal||Manchester United||12.34|
|Aaron Ramsey||Arsenal||West Ham United||12.03|
|Mesut Özil||Arsenal||Leicester City||11.77|
While numbers and statistics are often inconclusive and easily manipulated, it’s hard to argue with these figures. You really can’t call a player lazy when he covers more ground than the majority of players in his team and even in the league.
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There are obviously times the World Cup winner has deserved his criticisms since his move to Arsenal, and it’s not like he’s been infallible or at his best the entire time. He gets far more abuse than he deserves though, something which probably isn’t helped by his massive transfer fee.
Most Arsenal fans already seem to appreciate Özil and know just how much effort he puts in, but the rest of the footballing world remains oblivious and continues to tear him down for it. So next time someone slams Özil for being lazy, point them here and show them just how wrong they are.