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Özil and Arsenal – Caught in a Bad Romance

For far too long Özil and Arsenal have been intertwined in a sadly tragic affair. Both player and club are reminding me of the hit Lady Gaga song, Bad Romance. One particular line in the song goes as follows, “You and me could write a bad romance”.  That line is strangely fitting as I am writing on the bad romance between both parties.

After Özil had re-signed his contract with Arsenal back in 2018, I thought it would be the continuation of something special. Especially as Özil had just re-signed his contract shortly after the arrival of a certain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. I could have never imagined things would spiral out of control in the coming years between club and player and end in such shocking fashion.

The thought that Mesut Özil, currently in his eighth and final season for Arsenal will not play a single game this season and the disturbing reality that his send-off will most likely be without any fans, is a sad ending.

Mesut Özil is visibly no longer the majestic player he used to be. Despite this, one of Arsenal’s most current longest serving players does not deserve to be sent off in such nightmarish fashion. In the words of the player himself, ‘No matter what, I will keep fighting for my chance and not let my 8th season at Arsenal end like this’.

The nature of Özil’s status as an Arsenal outcast is very cryptic. Not included in Arsenal’s Premier League or Europa League squads, is the attacking midfielder’s omission related to politics, the wage cut issue or footballing reasons? Ideally at some point in the future we will hear the real story behind things.

Mesut Özil

Mesut Özil in happier times.

Mesut Özil was one of my favourite players to watch, his technique was beautiful, the way he could link up with other players, you often hear this said but the way he would glide above the pitch, the gracefulness on the pitch and of course how much of a unique playing style he possessed. For months in my spare time I would clumsily try to emulate his Bounce technique.

Former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger recently stated that, “He’s an artist, but there is no longer a place for artists in modern football. The real reasons why he’s not where he should be are a mystery to me.”

When all is said and done the first half of Özil’s Arsenal career was so magical, Özil was absolutely world class. Sadly, the second half of Özil’s career since the contract extension has been filled with false hopes between club and player.

In the early days of Emery’s tenure, Özil appeared re-vitalised at one period in time.  You may a remember a goal in a 2-0 home win over Watford, whilst Özil was wearing the Captain’s armband. I was convinced after that goal, that the play-maker was nearing closer towards his best. The dawn of a new Özil at Arsenal.

Özil after his goal versus Vorskla Poltava. September of 2018.

Shortly after that Watford goal, Özil produced one of his best Arsenal displays in a 3-1 home win over Leicester City. Özil was the Captain of Arsenal that night and he produced a magical dazzling performance. It appeared the star was re-born. Perhaps his greatest Arsenal performance.

Fast forward a little over a month later and Özil was questionably benched for a Premier League match against Bournemouth by Unai Emery. I’m not sure why exactly but the since the contract extension Özil’s time at Arsenal has been full of these false hopes. For instance, the streak of games pre-lockdown under Arteta where Özil was regularly appearing for Arsenal.

One of which was a great performance against Manchester United in a 2-0 home win, and to date his last appearance for Arsenal where he picked up an assist versus West Ham. Özil truly looked back then to be apart of Arteta’s plans, but due to the emergence of COVID-19, football was interrupted.

Since then Özil has been left out of the vast majority of Arsenal matchday squads and has not made another appearance.

ozil-assist

The world-class star’s last hurrah – Özil’s final appearance for Arsenal.

I do wish Özil the best, in what must be a difficult time for him. It’s easy to forget but for a football player an extended period out for example through injury, can be an agony. We will most likely never see Özil appear in an Arsenal shirt, ever again.

 

 

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