Which Mesut Özil will Arsenal get in the second half of this season?

Here’s a funny pattern you probably didn’t notice: Mesut Özil has had three half-seasons where he averaged 0.33 goals per game. That 0.33 goals per game includes both goals scored and assists and is a bit of a low return for a #10 at a club like Arsenal. In comparison, this season in the Premier League de Bruyne has scored or assisted 11 in 19 apps (0.47 goals per game), Lallana has 14 in 18 (0.78), Alexis has 20 in 20.. wait.. what???

Ok, Alexis’ amazing form aside this season (he actually has 25 total goals and assists in 26 apps already), Özil has a weird history of playing well below par in certain half-seasons. This isn’t a knock on his his overall production for the year and I’m not one of those Özil haters just looking for a reason to dislike him. Arsenal need Özil if they are going to compete in the League, the FA Cup, and the Champions League this year.

But when you look at the season bifurcated by January (which is the halfway point in the Premier League) his record is odd:

1st half of 2016/17: 23 apps, 9 goals, 6 assists, 0.65 goals per app
2nd half of 2015/16: 21 apps, 3 goals, 4 assists, 0.33 goals per app
1st half of 2015/16: 28 apps, 6 goals, 16 assists, 0.79 goals per app
2nd half of 2014/15: 22 apps, 4 goals, 6 assists, 0.46 goals per app
(INJURY) 1st half of 2014/15: 9 apps, 1 goal, 2 assists, 0.33 goals per app
2nd half of 2013/14: 19 apps, 2 goals, 4 assist, 0.32 goals per app
1st half of 2013/14: 22 apps, 5 goals, 9 assists, 0.64 goals per app
(Real Madrid) 2nd half of 2012/13: 30 apps, 5 goals, 12 assists, 0.57 goals per app
(Real Madrid) 1st half of 2012/13: 29 apps, 5 goals, 8 assists, 0.45 goals per app

Özil has had just three poor half-seasons out of 7 half-seasons at Arsenal. That’s not terrible. And if you look at his production in terms of calendar years, he has only had one bad year:

2013: 31 goals in 52 apps = 0.57 goals per app
2014: 9 goals in 28 apps = 0.32 goals per app
2015: 30 total goals in 52 apps = 0.58 goals per app
2016: 22 total goals in 44 apps = 0.50 goals per app

And it can be expressed in terms of seasons in which he had just one off season:

2016/17 season: 15 total goals in 23 appearances = 0.65 goals per app
2015/16 season: 29 total goals in 49 appearances = 0.59 goals per app
2014/15 season: 13 total goals in 31 appearances = 0.43 goals per app
2013/14 season: 21 total goals in 43 appearances = 0.48 goals per app
2012/13 season: 30 total goals in 59 appearances = 0.51 goals per app

But what worries me is that when Alexis does revert to the mean and starts scoring at a 10% rate (which is low for a striker but average for the League) he will still probably score more than 20 goals in the League (alone) this season (assuming he takes the same number of shots (68) that he took in the first half of the season). Meanwhile, Özil is also on a hot streak. Not one as amazing as last season but well above his four year average. What happens if Özil starts reverting to the mean at the exact same time? Or worse, what if Özil drops to one of his historically poor 0.33 goals per app rates?



  1. I’m holding out hope that Xhaka’s development will mitigate any potential second half slump in Ozil. Last season Ozil suffered from Cazorla’s exclusion, because Santi was always able to get him the ball. If Xhaka can continue to progress in that regard Mesut should be fine. Especially if we keep with Alexis up top.

    1. I’ve also noticed a lot of Xhaka hate over the last result. I mean a lot. Like Stoke supporters on Ramsey level hate.

      1. It’s hard to take sections of support seriously sometimes.
        The way some people complained about Ollie’s goal celebration makes me wonder why players even bother. He scored a goal, got two assists, and was getting slaughtered.
        If some fans are now going from ‘why isn’t he starting, the manager doesn’t know what he’s doing’ to ‘he’s rubbish and can’t be trusted’ I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

        1. I don’t think he should have celebrated but I blame the stupid rules that it affects the game more than anything else. Something similar happened two seasons ago at the 2-2 draw at Everton (when Giroud was subsequently injured) where he was celebrating the tying goal with Ramsey trying to pull him to the center circle.

          1. That, I can understand.

            I think arseblog got it right. What people were really angry about were the first 70 minutes. But why show any restraint and perspective when you can pile on a player that’s got you a goal and two assists.

      2. I bet it’s the same people who were up in arms about Wenger not giving Xhaka a start.

        1. I disagree.
          When only three points will do, it doesn’t matter how many goals and assists you have personally contributed to the team before the final whistle. The only proffesional reaction should be a sprint in a straight line to the center circle with the match ball in your arms.

          Anything other than that , even if it only takes two seconds, is two seconds wasted on something other than trying to get the winner.

          Having said that, I understand why most Arsenal supporters aren’t bothered by it.
          In some way it’s the same reaction they had towards Ox doing the jig in a tunnel before the Southampton game.

          “What’s the harm? The player is just expressing himself” they said,
          so was Giroud.

          I especially find it funny that some of the same fans who slammed the ref for not extending extra time past the original 6 minutes minimum, were the same people condoning Giroud’s celebrations.

          1. I don’t know man. Isn’t every game just as important as the next one. But I’m struggling to remember another instance where a player’s been so condemned for celebrating an equalizer. I guess it was stupid of him to run to the fans and make a joke of the wonder goal he scored in the previous game. Why bother trying to share some joy or even relief with the fans. I guess he’ll think twice about his celebrations in the future.

            That’ll teach him.

        2. That’s very harsh “nycgunner”. People are entitled to their opinion, we all express it time and again.

          When #afc lose, its mostly due to mistakes cascaded over the ground. We analyse and over analyse sometimes forgetting players on the pitch make split second decisions such as Giroud celebrating an equalizer or, Ramsey closing the wrong space for the opener.

          A lot of our judgement is momentary and based on the present evidence but, doesn’t mean the team is loved any less. Xhaka applied himself well during the game & I really hope for his sake that he eradicates the little mistakes which he has & which get punished in this league.

  2. this is why top players only want to play at top teams. they want to be a part of something special where if/when they do hit a slump, everyone’s not looking at him like he just slept with their wife. who wants that pressure?

    while it’s nice to be the hero and save the day from time to time, it’s also nice to sometimes defer to your superstar team mates. likewise, it’s nice if some of your opponent’s defensive focus is not exclusively on stopping you. lastly, superstar talents want to have their legacies laden with championships and that’s more likely if you’re on a team with multiple superstars.

    so, which ozil will we likely get in the second half of the season? that will depend on his team mates and their contributions.

  3. Other than the back-to-back FA Cups, the only consistency we have had over the last 10-12 years is our lack of the same.

    It is hugely frustrating to support this team. Those who would deny sections of the support to justifiably vent their frustration and bitch and moan reject the real value of the internet and the blogosphere.

    I’m looking for something, anything to get us out of this now predictable season.

    The start to whatever comes nwxt is to finally say goodbye to the man who has been our guru. It really is time, come what may.

    1. In its iteration of the last decade, Arsenal is a wonderfully consistent top four team nonetheless incapable of winning the highest honors. I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. Either we can take comfort from this predictability / inevitability, or we can rage against its inevitability. I see no point in the latter. This is just who we are. Does this mean we’ll lose top players once in a while? Maybe. But who cares? The personnel has changed many times over the years, and the results have been the same.

      1. Arsene Wenger has been stressing this very point every time people ask him to evaluate himself and the club. Finishing in the top four every year is an amazing consistency and 16 out of 20 clubs would probably take it before seasons start every time.

        Wenger detractors say he’s past his sell by date and his managerial skills have diminished.
        I don’t see it that way. I believe he is at the same level he’s always been but the level around him has gone up.

        Interestingly enough when Wenger’s biggest supporters try to take managers like Pep and Klopp down a peg or two, they always say they had achieved their success in a two club leagues but what they fail to acknowledge is that so did Wenger.

        A quick glance at the PL title winners between Wenger’s arrival and Chelsea’s 04-05 Championship season and it reads Arsenal 3 titles, Man U 5.

        Chelsea made it a three club league and City a few years later a four.
        The constant managerial merry go around has helped Wenger stay in the top four but he still deserves credit for that.

        Whether he stays on for another 2 years or more I don’t see him winning the title and I am at peace with this fact.

  4. I would rather look at Özil’s chance creation rate. He’s never been a big goalscorer and despite Wenger encouraging him to be more of a scorer, it’s taken him three seasons with us to even start looking more for his own chances. Until this half season of 9, he’s never had a half season of more than 6 goals. He has the mentality of a passer, not a scorer, end of. So his goal contribution, goals plus assists, is tied mainly to his assist rate. I would simply wonder if his assist rate is more tied to the conversion rates of our team than with an actual drop in his key passes. Maybe what we’re seeing here is that ARSENAL are inconsistent finishers rather than Özil’s performances dropping off. If his key pass rate and I suppose shot rate correlated with the poor goal contribution then you could say his performances declined in those periods.

  5. arsenal being inconsistent finishers is exactly the point i made above when i declared the ozil we’ll see will depend on the contribution of his team mates.

  6. I am of the strong belief that Arsene’s desire to get the best out of his two key players (Ozil and Sanchez) and the resulting tactical setup is hampering our overall success. Especially Ozil. If he is part of the midfield three, we are essentially a midfield two without the ball if teams bypass our press (which is extremely inferior to other top teams). And it also puts added pressure on the wide players to track back to regain a 4-4-2 kind of shape. Ozil is also the reason we are having to employ Coquelin in his strange role as an advanced ball winner. The way we got overrun at City was the perfect example. Ozil’s ability to find space in the attacking third is exemplary but what if our midfielders are pressed relentlessly that we can’t find him? I felt City targeted Xhaka in the second half to disrupt his passing and Coquelin’s limited ability on the ball and Ozil’s literal absence from midfield meant we were sitting ducks.
    I think, if we spend some money, we can find a player more rounded than ozil even if he doesn’t have the vision and positional ability in the attacking third that Ozil does. Alexis is the player we need to keep even if it means letting Ozil go. We’ve got good midfield players who are either being asked to do jobs they aren’t capable of to accommodate Ozil (Coquelin) or don’t fit into our current system (Ramsey).

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