Mesut Ozil makes a statement with words from his PR firm

Mesut Ozil is Arsenal’s most talented player – It’s not just the “what Mesut sees” stuff, the great passes and corner kicks, but also the way he sees space and works tirelessly to occupy/vacate space, which is a hugely underrated talent.

I will also say that Mesut Ozil is not the problem with Arsenal – I mean this literally. The problem with Arsenal is a lack of balance and purpose-built team construction or training. If you play Mesut Ozil, and I believe that you should use him as much as possible, you have to compensate for his weaknesses with other players, or with a system, on the pitch.

Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are club legends – they have statues, literally, at the club. Adams stayed with Arsenal during the worst of times, fought off his own personal demons of alcoholism, and helped launch Wenger’s career in English football.

Until very recently Adams and Wenger were close friends, they texted each other every day. I wrote about their falling out on 7amkickoff back in May. What prompted Wenger to cut Adams off was a very open criticism of the manager, not the players. Adams merely said what many other players have said about Arsene Wenger: that he’s not a great defensive coach.

What Adams said in his book, which was serialized in the Sun, was that Wenger couldn’t coach his way out of a paper sack. The full quote is a lot less damning than that, he says Wenger is a great manager in several different ways. But the main argument is that Wenger doesn’t seem to be able to coach a defense and that is backed up by other players in several other sources.

Here is Lee Dixon from the book Invincibles by Amy Lawrence:

George [Graham] drilled us into very knowledgable individuals, and a defence that could almost play with its eyes shut. I don’t know whether Arsene could do that. Well, he couldn’t!

That’s not his style, he is not knowledgeable about the defensive side of the game. He doesn’t push people around on the training pitch; he creates environments. A perfect example of that is Ashley Cole: Ash couldn’t defend to save his life when he got into the Arsenal team – and he’d agree with me.

But he had arguably one of the best coaches around for him in Tony Adams standing next to him. Tony had him on a piece of string. Arsene didn’t coach him once. Arsene doesn’t particularly know whether the left-back is in the right position or not! But he knows that Tony knows. So he put Ash next to Tony and said, have a look at him. That blend of experience is the perfect platform for Arsene to do his stuff.

Because that’s what he is brilliant at – creating environments to prepare players to be the best they possibly can.

Since putting all this together back in May I have completely softened on my criticism of individual players. It’s not Ramsey’s fault that he’s constantly in the box and it’s not even the center backs’ fault when they get turned by a player, or someone runs past them and scores. That’s Wenger’s fault. The whole team’s defensive organization is soft as a wheel of brie left in the sun at a picnic.

However I see an agenda in Özil’s open letter to the Arsenal supporters. He wants to shift blame away from his performances because some of the labels he’s getting (like “lazy”) are hugely damaging to a player’s career. When he goes to play for his next team, these labels are going to dog him. I would say that it’s too late but I think that’s what they (his PR firm) are most worried about. But the argument they use is one which his PR firm plucked from the aggressively positive (aggropoz) twitter supporters: supporters should support and otherwise shut up. “My advice to these former Gunners: stop talking and start supporting!” barked Ozil in his open letter.

I get this garbage all the time. The aggropoz Gooners feel like it’s their responsibility to instruct people on true supportering. They have a party line and you already know it:

  1. the referees are at fault
  2. 27.5 is 28
  3. you don’t understand football
  4. that was just bad luck
  5. it’s not as bad as you think
  6. why do you feel like you deserve a League title
  7. Arsenal are a poor team and can’t compete monetarily with other clubs
  8. dissent at any time – in the stands, in the blogs, on twitter, from former players – is the reason for certain player’s negative attitudes and performances. And in the greatest bit of circular logic ever, criticism of the players, manager and club is to blame for when the club have a bad performance.

But number seven is the big one: shut up and put up. That’s their argument. That’s Özil’s PR firm’s argument.

No thanks!

I just got out of a long term relationship with someone who was aggropoz and it was relationship jail. Because while they were critical of everyone around them, often venomously, they couldn’t handle any critique in return. Any critique was met with aggressive behavior. The exact same thing I find with aggropoz Gooners.

I’m not defending people who are over the top with their criticism or who are relentlessly negative (relentneg). There is definitely a level of criticism which is unwarranted. I’ve seen relentneg on AFTV and even in the stands, twice, directed at Abou Diaby. If your life has become a firehose of anger toward Arsenal or a player, that you unleash every weekend, maybe you should break up with Arsenal. Or go to therapy.

But the exact opposite of that, this idea that ANY criticism means that I should go support another club, or that I should just walk around held hostage to my ideas, that I should “stop talking and start supporting!” is equally negative, but it’s a negativity in positivity’s clothing.

As I find with most things, somewhere between the two extremes lies the truth. Özil is a beautiful footballer who I think is sometimes underrated. In his one year that he got 19 assists for Arsenal, he nearly made Arsenal into League champs. If Arsenal’s finishing could have kept pace with his prodigious passing, maybe we would have won the League. He was also a key part of the FA Cup runs and no one will ever forget the fact that Arsenal won three FA Cups in 4 years thanks at least in part to Mesut Ozil.

Özil also requires players around him to cover for his deficiencies, specifically his lack of defense. It is partly his fault that we need to have a team set up that covers for his lack of defending. He could work on that part of his game and make the team better. But he doesn’t and hasn’t for four years at this club. And that means it’s the manager’s job to sort that out, to cover for him and to make the team stronger.

It doesn’t make me a bad supporter to point out the latter, nor a good supporter to point out the former. And if Özil truly wants to shut his critics up, he should spend less time crafting carefully worded open letters to the fans and more time assisting his teammates on the pitch. If he got 20 assists this season I can guarantee that all criticism of him will be piled onto the trash heap of history.

Did I just take Özil’s “shut up and support” and spin it around into “shut up and play”? I guess I did to an extent. Though, I would back down from the shut up part. I would say: “say what you want on Facebook but I’m more interested in how you play on the pitch.”

Over to you now, Özil.

Qq

 

37 comments

  1. Thanks for this rational post..

    I love watching Ozil play and was so happy that he signed shortly after I got my first season ticket. I am not blind to his faults but one of Wengers key failing is not to build teams that get the best out of his key talent.

    Ozil is just one example but the same happened with Fabregas. I do not know why such an experienced and erudite man as Wenger fails to do this.

    If he bought the odd poor player I could understand but he does not even seem to try.

    Transfer strategy seems to be to buy players who are available for the right price and then work out how to use them afterwards.

  2. “it’s not as bad as you think” makes one an aggropoz gooner? Now I need some clarification Tim, is it a matter of saying “it’s not as bad as you – Tim Todd – think”, or it a matter of saying “it’s not as bad as you think” to anyone criticizing Arsenal at all? Or perhaps “it’s not as bad as you think” to anyone calling Kroenke a “cunt”, Wenger “senile”, and Ivan G a “liar”? I need your help here Tim because I sometimes read criticism of the players, the manager, the owner etc and I think “it’s not as bad as you think” and really have spent the bulk of my life trying not to be aggropoz.

  3. Mate, nice writing, but listen. If Ozil’s performances were viewed with some balance and objectivity then he could just “shut up and play”. Ozil would say to you, that it doesn’t matter what he does on the pitch, some people will be just see the negative and be over-critical of this – no balance, no objectivity. The classic example is the Stoke game. Any other fans/neutrals would attribute this loss to the disallowed goal and penalties not awarded. Instead all we hear about is “Ozil going missing”, how he is lazy and never presses; with not enough mention of his ridiculous number of assists/chances he creates. If people gave a balanced assessment of what he did on the pitch, he could just play and not talk. Unfortunately this is not the case – so he has to come out and say – “guys look at the numbers/records, they speak for themselves”. He has become a scapegoat for our apparent years of “crisis”. He is not perfect but evaluation of his performances we see and hear are not balanced. Are we fair to our players? They are criticised excessively on all forms of high profile media after every loss. Then we wonder why our players get sold for £7-10 million and other clubs players, of arguably similar ability, go for £20-30 million. Listen if Ggylfi Sigurdsson played for Arsenal and put in the exact same performances for Arsenal as he did for Swansea. Anyone think he would have gone to Everton for the best part of £50million? We would get that for Ozil now?

    1. I would mostly attribute the loss to Stoke to the error that led to the goal and lack of incisiveness in the final third. The Lacazette goal was a 50/50 decision and while I’d have liked to seen it given I can’t get outraged that it wasn’t. I mean that’s the thing really – we can blame the refs but as much of a shower as Stoke were on the day, we have to lay blame at Arsenal’s feet for not taking advantage of it.

      Ozil is a different case. I’ve long argued that Ozil gets a short shrift in the media/football discourse because a lot of what he does well isn’t obvious and a lot of what he does poorly is very obvious. I think anyone who doesn’t see a world-class player when they look at him is missing the point. But he’s a peculiar sort of world-class player in that he is a player that requires the team built in a certain way to get the best out of him, or, if you want to see the team succeed without building around him, you need to put him in a place to hide his deficiencies, which unfortunately has the offset of reducing his strengths. The latter is how Germany handles him, of course. But Wenger never really has built the team around him, even if he’s been aware of what Ozil needs, which I think he is.

      Anyway, I agree mostly with Tim’s points in the article. I find the “aggropoz” gooners who are yelling to stop complaining on social media as irritating and pointless as I found the likes of Le Grove and Myles Palmer irritating in the past. I think if you can look at the current state of Arsenal and see anything less than a mess, you probably have rose colored glasses on.

  4. Does saying that financially we’re tier 1a count as #7?

    Because it’s true. We are not in the same income strata as the biggest clubs. And our owner looks at Arsenal as a business, not a vanity project so he’s not willing to spend money that wont generate a financial return. (Aka waste it) So, while we can compete for the tier 1a players, when it comes to buying the very very top of the market, we can’t compete.

    And even for the tier 1a players that we can afford, we don’t have a team of galacticos or the record of success that comes with such a team, to entice them.

    None of this precludes signing the tier1a defensive midfielder we desperately need, or winning the league for that matter, but it makes it significantly harder.

    Seems odd not to acknowledge it.

  5. In a similar vein, I’m not an elite athlete, but I remember from training that it was easier to operate with attendings who believed in you and critiqued with the aim of making you better than with attendings who disliked you and took every opportunity to remind you. Granted the later helped me learn to focus, perform under pressure and develop a thicker skin, but I honestly think I was able to relax and perform better with the former.

    Why wouldn’t a negative atmosphere at the ground and among the club legends not have an effect on the players? It’s one thing to be shelled in the media, but to have the people who you’d expect to support you turn their back has to be difficult.

    Even if you believed in tour heart of hearts that Arsene Wenger was a genius why would a player choose the toxic environment around Arsenal over say Liverpool?

    This isn’t to say you can’t sign the defensive midfielder that we need, or win the league for that matter, despite our toxic environment, just that it’s harder.

    Of course, if you think the club needs to jettison Wenger and that only a prolonged losing streak will give that result, then undermining the club makes sense. I suppose concealing those intentions would make undermining the club more effective as well. When you get down to it, fracturing and dividing the fanbase to deny AKB partisans the tacit support of a cheering crowd at the Ems would hasten his departure too. Seems like we’re entering the ‘destroying the village to save it’ territory though.

    1. Yes fans should cheer for the team once the whistle goes, but what you’re saying exempts the club completely. Why lay the blame for fracturing and dividing the fanbase solely at the feet of fans? Don’t the club have the most control over the relationship? Don’t they have all the agency? Nearly two years ago Gazidis himself said a “broken relationship” between fans and manager would be evidence that the club needed to step in a make changes. Even the club understands it has a role to play.

      Club legends are not cheerleaders. They’re legends because they’ve been there and done it. They have the right to tell it like it is. if Wenger or Ozil doesn’t like what they’re hearing, tough luck. The reason a negative atmosphere shouldn’t stop players from performing is simple. They’re professionals. They have professional support structures. They play away games at actively hostile stadiums. Please visit a Galatasaray game in Turkey or a Bastia game in Corsica to understand what a truly toxic atmosphere at a home football ground can be, because the Emirates, even now, is not that bad.

      Because he earned it in his early years, Arsenal’s fanbase has given Wenger literally decades of their patience. He’s built and rebuilt teams. There’s years of evidence for people to base their opinions on. When I made up my mind over five years ago, I was in the minority. Today the majority opinion seems to be swinging away from Wenger. In my eyes Arsenal fans have been patient and knowledgeable about the game because most understand our self-financing model but have reached their limit with the current set-up. You seem to see nothing but a bunch of Machiavellian strategists twirling their moustaches in delight because some dastardly plan is coming together. That’s a shame.

      1. Nope, that’s not what I’m saying.

        I’m saying support matters. I don’t know why this is controversial.

        Ever hear a footballer thank the fans for their support? See one try to pump up the crowd? Talk about how they love playing at home? Or how they appreciate the traveling support? Do you think they mean it?

        If strong support helps, then why wouldn’t negativity hurt?

        Why wouldn’t it sting more when the home fans call you names than when the opposing fans do?

        1. My overall point is, any analysis of “support” that leaves out context about Arsenal’s recent history is flawed.

          It’s not controversial to say support matters. It is slightly misleading to divorce that argument from results and overall trajectory of the club.

          Europe is another big part of this equation.

          We found it tough to beat teams with wage bills half our size. Tier 1a, Tier 2b – all the financial arguments went out the window. We saw what it meant to face tactical, hyper-organised teams. We were exposed. Regularly.

          No stadium in English football has extracted more UCL revenue from fans than the Emirates. Seeing your team regularly outclassed on the European stage breeds unhealthy scepticism that corrodes the fan/club relationship.

          And because failure in Europe had no consequences, Arsenal effectively told fans that none of it mattered. Last season we quietly pocketed the ticket revenue, issued a perfunctory statement, and left the relationship between fans and manager to fester.

          Important to note that throughout this recent period in our history, we’ve had the best away supporters in the league. We know what it means to support our team. So any narrative about “support” that’s devoid of context, that doesn’t humanize the very real men, women and children that always show up to support Arsenal away from home and at the Emirates, is simply flawed.

  6. Great post; agree with almost every word. And mostly fair, balanced, thoughtful comments so far.

    I’d add two things:
    1. I think Adams was being a bitter, ungrateful, attention-seeking d*ck by writing what he wrote in the book, even if he had (at least somewhat of) a point (which he did). And I think their falling out was probably more about Adams feeling hurt that he’s not been given more favors from Arsenal in his managerial career than about the book (in other words, I think the book excerpt, and Wenger’s dismissive reply about it, are the symptoms, not the cause, of the rift).

    2. People on here know I love Ozil, perhaps to a fault, but I think Tim’s assessment in the above article is even-handed. I would just add, though, that one of the most frustrating things about how fans and the media discuss Ozil is when folks question whether the Arsenal team can afford to “carry” Ozil, the idea typically being that his lack of defensive play means Arsenal can’t play well, or can’t play their best, with him in the lineup (for some reason, one rarely hears media types question whether a good team can “carry” a hard working but average-skilled player, as if their subpar skills aren’t equally a burden on the team).
    This is ridiculous. First of all, I think even when he’s not at his best, Ozil’s (often subtle, sometimes decisive) offensive contributions outweigh his lack of defense.
    But more to the point, almost ANY pretty good player–to say nothing of a genuinely world class talent like Mesut–can be “carried” by a good, well-coached team provided the team is set up correctly. To take a silly example: I don’t rate Theo very highly at all, but Pep’s Barcelona could have carried Theo in their starting lineup, to the point that he wouldn’t have been a serious detriment to their playing well and he could even have been empowered to contribute with his somewhat limited skill set (as a stand-in for Pedro, say). Of course, that doesn’t mean Barca would have been as good with Theo in the lineup (though even if they had been worse, it doesn’t follow that that would have made much of a difference to the bottom line, i.e. that they would have won fewer trophies). Pretty much any really successful side has areas where they could be improved by replacing a player or two with players from other teams. So in a sense even the best sides are “carrying” their weaker members (e.g. think Abidal, Valdes, and Pedro in that great Barca side), which is not to say those players are anything but very good, or that the team would be as good with others, just that a team is never successful, or dysfunctional, simply due to one player bringing everyone else down. It’s a team game, don’t you know (this would be true even if one player happened to be genuinely terrible, but it’s obviously more true when all the players are good, if not world beaters). It’s up to the coach to make talented players function together.
    Now, in the case of Mesut: could a “luxury player” be bringing down the performances of a team, by forcing his teammates to “carry” him defensively. Of course. As good as Ozil is, it might make sense at times to bench him or make him play a more marginalized role, e.g. on the right wing of a 4-3-3. But this sort of thing is more commonly an issue in, e.g., the semifinals of the CL when your team is playing e.g. Simeone’s Athletico or a Mourinho team. Small margins mean you might have to sacrifice some flair and creativity (note I say might: too often coaches jump to this conclusion because they’re scared of taking the risks; and if you’re going to leave any creativity in your team at all, Ozil isn’t a bad shout).
    But here’s the point: you simply don’t get the kind of dysfunction that we’ve seen against Liverpool this year (and to a lesser extent against Stoke), and against City, Everton, Bayern Munich, Bournemouth, Watford, Liverpool, Preston, Man United (away), WBA, Spurs, and Palace last season (am I leaving anybody out?), because Mesut Ozil isn’t tracking back enough, isn’t tough enough in challenges, or doesn’t work hard enough to win the ball back. It might make a slight negative difference, but it’s far, far, far from being one of the reasons for the sh*tshows we’ve been serving up, off and on (increasingly on), for over a year now.

  7. Arsenal tried to trade To Atlatico Madrid, but there was a clause in the transaction of buy back of Ozil in case of a trade. Ozick will be a free agent next summer and will sign with another club and then he will be appreciated.

    1. Sorry for the typo error. I followed Ozil when he was at Madrid and followed him at Arsenal. He is a talent for sure. Lately, other teams has figured Arsenal problems by going long behind the defense, the defense lately was very bad. I wonder sometimes, why Arsenal always trade good young players. They play some players out of position and some demand to play a certain position, like chambers, all that noise about players want out, nagotiate their contract has distracted from the team. Some really don’ t give a damn, but work their shift. Ozil see him frostrated with other played effort. People, fans call for trading Ozil, but I said before approving any trade, Real Medrid has the upper hand of where Ozil goes and get a lot of money back from Arsenl.

  8. Of course it’s PR. Everything is PR these days because we demand it. I mean look at the (fake) outrage about our chairman’s statements on horse racing. We want a sanitised version and look for an agenda in everything.

    All the same, Ozil’s statement is not ordinary. I think his statements on the club show his genuine love for Arsenal. I also think he has a real point about the ex players now pundits when it comes to Arsenal. You don’t see former Liverpool, ManU and Chelsea guys so eager to jump on their clubs as ‘our’ guys are. Quite the opposite.

    The discussion about the positive v negative I think gets a little distorted by us all because we all tend to react to whatever we choose to see as the other. I have to say I think the negative extremists have been winning the battle to shift the centre to their position. I recognise the truth to it despite having been accused of being an aggro positive because I actually don’t believe things are as bad as people think. But I also think a lot of the extreme negatives have another selfish agenda while the positive extreme is only a reaction to this.

    Anyway. Still traveling and still not seen games. A lack of a midfielder purchase was very disappointing. Ox’s sale surprisingly less so. But AMN and Nelson now need to be ready as backup Rwb. I also agree with going 433 but not sure that will happen yet.

    1. Is this something that people who live outside the UK really think? Because ex-Liverpool and ex-Utd guys are over-represented among domestic football pundits on tv, radio and in print. And they don’t hold back when it comes to criticising their own clubs.

      Alan Hansen and Roy Keane are famous for it. Even Paul Scholes, who almost never gives interviews, popped up to eviscerate Van Gaal when he was struggling.

      Nah, criticism from club legends is part of the fabric of British football. It’s not even a Premier League thing – it happens in the lower divisions too. We take it more personally because it seems like friendly fire, but it’s actually a pretty normal thing.

  9. Yeah, i’ve swayed a few ways on Ozil the last few years but I agree he’s not the problem.

    If he was as spineless as some people think he wouldn’t be constantly selected for Germany or winning multiple player of the year awards for them.

    He has weaknesses in his game that are obvious but his positives far outweigh them if you set up a team with those weaknesses in mind. I don’t think we do.

    I think I read that he’s set up the most chances in the league so far.

  10. Man, I got a bad taste in my mouth as soon as this clumsy piece of PR came out. I say clumsy because that was my first impression, but I’ve been surprised at how well received it’s been. A little disappointing, but only because it means our fans are bigger mugs than I thought. My issues with it, in order:

    1. It’s badly written. Like seriously, if you’re going to take the time to write out this long message for your client – and it is long, meandering, not a tight message at all – at least make it read well. It reads like it was written by a child. Which is probably the point – your average footballer (and fan) is not hugely literate.
    2. It’s a little stupid. It acknowledges some criticism, but doesn’t acknowledge the role of the players or the managers in that. It cops out with some ‘get behind the team’ nonsense. It doesn’t even aim that the fans, but ‘former Gunners!’. That’s such a cop out.
    3. There’s no commitment to the present or the future. Expected, but weak.
    4. It’s pretty transparently not genuine in its sentiment.

    I guess it just feels weak. It’s clear PR to get the fans behind him and him alone, not necessarily the team. And the medium – published on international break, just feels like it’s not even him. At least say it in an interview, or on camera. I can’t imagine him saying those things in person.

    Unlike everyone else, I’m not convinced Ozil will leave. He’s got a lot going on at AFC, and not a huge number of attractive options. I think he’s waiting to see if anything good comes along, but I rate him as 50/50 to stay. Maybe more – the club won’t want to lose him AND Sanchez for free next summer. Sanchez looks a clear goner, so I think we’ll do what we can to keep him.

  11. I agree with Shard too.

    When you’ve watched football for any length of time you know that PR is just PR. Not saying it’s completely meaningless but people who should/do know better are often willing to seize on anything the club/players say and take it as literally as possible if it means they can use it as an excuse to be upset.

    Case in point, people still complain about Arsenal saying they want to model themselves on teams like Bayern. But if Arsenal didn’t say that they were aiming that high they’d face even more criticism.

    And when it comes to what Ozil said, I know people hate this but if you’re going to dish out the abuse and the criticism you have to be able to take it too. Too many fans see criticism as a one way street. It’s fine to call the manager a senile old fool or a crazy megalomaniac, or refer to players as dead wood or an embarrassment but they’ll freak out as soon as you suggest the support could be better.

  12. Good, thought provoking analysis, Tim.

    For me, it’s simple with Mesut. When you lose the ball, show a modicum of interest in winning it back. That will eliminate 60% of your issue with the fans. Plus, I want to see him lead a comeback charge when we’re up against it, instead of grinning when we’re winning, and shrinking from the fight when we’re getting a hiding.

    Nothing summed him up better than the Liverpool game. Receiving the ball mid-pitch, sleepily dawdling on it, being robbed of it by the more committed opposition player, and Arsenal almost conceding a goal in a flash. Remind me who lost it against Stoke and barely broke into a gentle jog, with apparently no interest in getting it back.

    Don’t get me wrong (I defended Ozil for a long, long time, till he had a stinker at Old Trafford — was it last year? — and I realised that many of us had run out of excuses). Ozil is a fabulous player when given time and space. Sorry, Mesut. This is England, and both are in short supply. He would have won POTY two seasons ago and broken the assists record if we had a more decent front man than Giroud (whp also lost form).

    Don’t agree that he needs to be carried. There is no other creative player in the EPL for whom such an accommodation is given. I can just hear Antonio Conte’s choice Italian if the suggestion is put to him to carry Hazard, who would work less hard. Ozil has it in him to work hard off the ball. He did in the FA Cup final. He can sometimes seem like a Rolls Royce in a rough and tumble cross-country rally. He absolutely must learn to play that part of the English game conistently, or he’ll forever have a spotty legacy at Arsenal.

    What we need, throughout the side, is more of the fight and tenacity that Sanchez brings. Ozil sorely lacks that. He’s like a ballerina in a street dancing ensemble. He needs to get some grime on his shoes.

  13. Another thing in defence of Mesut, related to carrying him. Arsenal sold him and Sanchez on getting players to match their considerable talents. Arsenal misled them. He didn’t need to be so much as carried, as given the right cast.

    Sometime ago Ozil picked his fantasy XI. It was dominated by Madrid players. Tellingly, his striker pick was Benzema. His one Arsenal pick? Santi. He may have picked Sanchez, I don’t remember. We have let him down.

    His failure to track back would matter less if we had ruthless marksmen firing the bullets that he supplied, and genuine steel in the middle of the park.

    Oh, and one more thing. He admitted in his biography that Mourinho bollocked him over his defending.

  14. I don’t have a problem with the open letter. Why shouldn’t he speak his mind?

    And WTF is aggropoz?

  15. The sad thing is that Wenger’s brittleness and vanity have left Arsenal to drift, and potentially great players like Ramsey and Xhaka and Mustafi and Bellerin don’t develop, but are left to figure it out for themselves.

    I feel particularly sad for Ozil because his languid style and physical timidity (shrinking at headers, rarely putting in a fight for a ball) are so obvious targets for people who pull out their hair watching Arsenal stumble around leaderless and uninspired. Compared to the verve of Ramsey and the fierceness of Koz and the zippy running of Welbz or Theo, Ozil’s sleepiness is an easy target.

    But I’m more mad at Ramsey for not learning his position (even against Wenger’s wishes??) than at Ozil for being so easily bullied. Ozil is trying in the way he knows, and he’s contributing tremendously. He’s justifiably fed up being scapegoated for Arsenal’s glaring and gaping weaknesses.

    Wouldn’t it be equally fair to say the team is carrying Ramsey’s indiscipline or carrying Alexis’s turnovers? Sure. Equally unhelpful, because the problem is not with players. The problem is coaching and the organization (starting with our profit-focused owner).

  16. It is a good article and has added balance but basically the problem is quite simple, Win all the games you dont get aggro, dont win and someone some where will become a scapegoat and be blamed,the more you “dont win” the longer the scapegoat list. Its when the results are not bad that I object to.
    I can remember beating Southampton 6-1, still the moaners and blamers were out in force complaining an “injured” Schezney had dropped the ball from a cross for the Southampton goal. The guy had a shoulder injury which kept him out for weeks and still they wanted to scapegoat him for dropping a cross!!

  17. The team defensively is carrying Ozil’s lack of will and inability to defend. It is also carrying Ramsey’s disrespect for defensive obligations ánd also Xhaka’s slow feet. Unfortunately for Ozil he is the recipient of 70% of the critisism. Ramsey 25% and Xhaka 5%. It aught to be shared equally.

    The solution though is the fortification of that midfield by either remixing the personnel of that midfield or by adding an extra body there. 4:3:3 looks our easiest option atm for improving the situation.

  18. Oh good, more names to call each other.

    Devil’s advocate. I have often complained about the relentless negativity, about a sense of entitlement and about the toxic levels of criticism that have hung around the Arsenal fanbase for at least ten years. I have asked, encouraged, and occasionally demanded a better attitude. I have certainly overstepped the line on a couple of occasions.

    For example when we won the FA Cup in 2014 I said that I felt some fans almost didn’t deserve to celebrate it because they had been doing their best to fight the club rather than help it. That was going too far, and I regret it, but honestly deep down I still question it.

    This is emphatically not aimed at Tim or anyone else here, but if you’re flying planes over football grounds; shouting on train platforms; writing high-profile anti-Arsenal pieces week after week on blogs or occasionally in national papers, getting angry about your own preferred version of events that you cannot know the actual truth of; if you’re an organisation that’s supposed to be representing Arsenal fans and you’re briefing against the club to the media; if you’re in the stands hurling foul abuse at Arsenal players when they come over to take a corner, if you target individual players wearing Arsenal shirts to the point that their confidence is shot and their careers are damaged; if you’re arguing in bad faith because you always make the worst possible interpretation of any piece of media-filtered gossip that leaks from the club; if you constantly call for the manager to be sacked and the board to be sacked and then between them they win you a trophy – then how do you deserve to parade around, basking in that reflected pride? How do you somehow claim that success as your own? How hypocritical is that? It’s an honest question.

    Like I say, I have overstepped the line over the last ten years and told other fans how they should support the club. I’m sorry for much of that, but not all of it.

    I often sign up for about 6 out of Tim’s 8 “aggpoz” arguments, whenever they happen to be true, in the context of whatever is being discussed. But there are no “party lines”, and “shut up and support the club” is only a crude version of what I believe: “1. Celebrate and support the club 2. Critique it as much as you like but for the love of Jeff do it rationally and fairly.”

    There you go, I’m telling other fans what to do again.

    1. The way I understand the concept of a tribe is that you may have your disagreements internally but when it comes to someone external threatening or attacking you, you are all come together. Maybe that’s too simplistic but I often see a lot of our fans willing supporters, if not instigators, of attacks on our club from external sources.

      I used to be proud of Arsenal not being like the crazy Liverpool or ManU fans who would lie or condone cheating to back their club. But I think we’ve gone too far the other way.

  19. Özil is getting off a little bit too easily. Yes, a lot of criticism he gets is pretty stupid and token for stuff that’s really absurd. He’s a wonderful footballer and he’s certainly not lazy when we have the ball.
    But he’s also not just weak defensively, he doesn’t even really try most of the time. I don’t need him o win towering headers but my god he just stands there most of the time and pushes a leg out as an alibi while the ball and opponent pass him by. He may not be that type of player but he surely warrants criticism for that. He might see himself as a number 10 that doesn’t need to this kind of stuff but there’s good reason why players like him or Riquelme got phased out of the game slowly. He’s a specialist player and ouor superstar player. We should expect more of him than maybe half a season of production.

  20. Lately I’ve been looking at the team, trying to work out what the hell is going on. It seems as if Wenger hit upon a good way of playing, let’s call it Coqzorla which suppressed dangerous shots but didn’t affect the teams offensive output too much. Then Cazorla got injured and the wheels fell off the clown car…
    Ted Knutson has been very vocal on twitter that so far as he can tell the StatsDNA team has been identifying players and Wenger has been rejecting them, instead he’s persisting with this bizarre experiment in mediocrity for reasons unknown.

  21. Good people can disagree on stuff, and I’m glad we’re discussing that with a minimum of rancour. I abhor the stuff like yelling at Wenger at train stations or booing players at the stadium, but I honestly don’t get this notion that you if you criticise the club in public, you’re fuelling negativity that in turn affects things on the pitch and in the backrooms. I think it’s the other way around. The club, by its lax management of everything from transfers to tactics, is itself fuelling the negativity. Everyone else is reacting to that. This today, is from Arseblog. http://news.arseblog.com/2017/09/revealed-arsenals-crazy-summer-business-and-how-it-all-went-down/

    Read it and weep. Arseblog (or Tim or anyone with a platform) is under no obligation to Arsenal keep this stuff out of the public domain. Trust me, we the fans can see and feel that Arsene and Gazidis mismanaged the transfer business, and have been doing so for years, without any Arsenal supporting scribe writing about it. The main blog piece questioning why Wenger stayed is both rational and fair. We as fans (and some media types) CAN be too reactionary, it’s true. But it’s been a long held notion for years among a significant section of the fanbase that Wenger is way below the standard of manager he used to be, and is continued tenure is contributing to a lowering of standards. And he keeps proving it anew. It seems to me that the issue some of us have is that we ourselves deal badly with bad news about the club. So we question whether the reporting/opinionating is “fair and rational”, and proportionate.

    Consider the Thomas Lemar debacle. I mean, WTF, Arsene and Ivan?

    The club has a rot, and the current manager is at the heart of it. Not everyone is comfortable with that bald truth being stated by people who support (and love) the club.

  22. Regarding Ozil, Wenger has mismanaged him much like he’s mismanaged Ramsey. Ozil is first, foremost, and pretty much exclusively a brilliant passer of the ball. He doesn’t defend well and he’s not a natural goalscorer. Yet Wenger has very publicly called out Ozil to be a more ruthless scorer and to make runs behind the defense. Ozil has done this and he’s scored some great goals but, similar to Ramsey, being a scorer of great goals doesn’t make you a naturally great goalscorer. Ozil may be one of the most technically gifted and skilled players in the world, he might find the back of the net in practice all of the time, but he simply lacks a poacher’s instincts in front of goal during games. Ozil is a provider, not a finisher. I feel as if this obsession with finding goals from midfielders has been mostly about not wanting to spend the money to bring an elite goalscorer to the club. Ironically, to get the best out of Mesut, perhaps stop asking him to score more goals and instead bring in a clinical finisher. And yes, the assist record would have been broken if we’d had a more clinical finisher than Giroud.

    Second, regarding his defending, a more better coach would demand better defending from Ozil. At the same time, a better coach would set the team up in a way that Ozil’s defensive weakness isn’t nearly as noticeable. Every team carries players who are poor defenders. Well coached, better organized teams offset that weakness by structuring the team to compensate for those weakness. The best coaches actually IMPROVE those players to be better all around players.

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