Arsenal have been dealt a body blow as midfielder Mesut Ozil has been ruled out for upto 3 months following an MRI scan which showed that the German had damaged his knee ligament.
The Gunners already have a long injury-list, including many key players and one more big-name added to it is sure not good news. There is though, a silver lining.
Ozil’s influence on the team towards the end of the last season and in this campaign so far has been muted. After a decent start to life at the Emirates, he has faded away dramatically. With the likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta on the verge of coming back from their respective injuries, here are a few reasons why the injury to Ozil may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal:
Record-Signing Must Play:
Arsene Wenger has faced a huge dilemma when it comes to Ozil recently. Despite the German’s sub-standard performances, Wenger is almost forced to play Ozil to justify his £42 million price-tag. After all, it hardly looks apt to sign a player for that kind of money and put him on the bench.
In this process, Ozil has been played out-of-position several times this season. Rather than at his preferred role behind the striker, which is occupied by Jack Wilshere, Wenger has played him in the wide areas, where he has been man-handled and battered by nearly every full-back he’s faced.
In Others’ Way:
With Wenger’s staunch refusal to drop Ozil, there are other squad-members, arguably more deserving of a starting place, who have suffered. The likes of Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have had far bigger impacts on games this season, but have been benched to accommodate Ozil in the starting XI.
Now, with Walcott and Ramsey set to return after injury lay-offs, Wenger would have been placed in a bigger fix. Only that Ozil’s injury has spared him.
Intense Media Scrutiny:
Mesut Ozil was hailed as one of the best creative players in the world in 2010, when he put in a string of outstanding performances in Germany’s World Cup campaign. He was subsequently signed by Real Madrid, where he developed further under the mentorship of Jose Mourinho.
When he came to Arsenal, the expectations were naturally sky-high. With every poor performance therefore has come some intense scrutiny, both from fans and the media. This has undoubtedly had a psychological impact on Ozil, as his recent performances show. The German has looked a shadow of his old-self, portraying none of the silky-smooth passing and unerring composure that had seen him hailed and praised so much.
This lay-off has given him the perfect opportunity to re-group, find his rhythm again and return with renewed venom.
While Ozil’s injury is certainly a bitter blow for Arsenal, a pragmatic view may show that this offers a couple of opportunities too for Wenger’s side to get their season back on track after Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea left them in 7th place in the table.