When Arsene Wenger shelled out a club-record £42.4m to sign Mesut Özil from Real Madrid back in September 2013, supporters of the Gunners were genuinely excited.
The German international was expected to take the Premier League by storm, with his French manager certainly talking up his abilities:
“He is a great player, with proven quality at both club and international level. We have watched and admired him for some time as he has all the attributes I look for in an Arsenal player.”
Unfortunately for Arsenal, however, the 26-year-old’s impact has been far less significant than they would have hoped for, particularly when compared to that of Santi Cazorla:
|30Y 8M||AGE||26Y 10M|
|5FT 6IN||HEIGHT||5FT 11IN|
|10ST 5LB||WEIGHT||11ST 5LB|
|PL | ARS |||| ARS | PL|
|08/12 - 08/15||08/12 - 08/15|
It would be fair to say that Özil has failed to hit the heights on a regular basis during his spell in North London, only contributing directly to 24 top-flight goals.
His Spanish teammate, on the other hand, has either scored or assisted 53 times in the Premier League, though he has spent one extra season in England.
The diminutive Spanish international does of course take penalties, but he has also been operating from a deeper role in recent months.
Arsenal fans may take the views of former Leicester City and Millwall striker Steve Claridge with a pinch of salt, but there is certainly a grain of truth to what he had to say about Özil on BBC Radio 5 Live last night:
“He is the weakest link mate because he just doesn’t do his job, he doesn’t do enough on the ball and he doesn’t do anything defensively.”
The World Cup winner appears to be untouchable in Wenger’s eyes, yet dropping him would inject the side with more pace and power if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought in.
The England international could operate down the right flank, allowing Aaron Ramsey to tuck inside and form a balanced midfield trio with Francis Coquelin and Cazorla.
Is Claridge being too harsh or has Özil been playing with the handbrake on during his time in North London? Would you drop the £42.4m man if you were in charge? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section beneath.
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THE VERDICT ON NEWCASTLE V ARSENAL
Arsenal travel to Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime, having won each of their last seven games against the Magpies.
Our exclusive Kickoff algorithm gives the Gunners a strong 60% chance of winning again, whilst the ten-game ‘Ultimate Form Guide’ has the North London outfit ahead in 13 of the 14 categories.
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