On a night when Arsenal conceded 4 goals, talking about a bad performance from an attacking player is obviously not the biggest issue.
However at Arsenal, it always seems to come back to Mesut Özil. That is almost always going to be the case when you are the highest paid player on a team and one of the highest paid players in the world.
His performance against Chelsea in the Europa League Final was among the worst he had in a season of bad performances.
His performance was the mirror opposite of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard who shares a lot of similarities in how they are the main focus of their teams.
The stats up and down the list show the vast difference between the two.
In the match Özil had just 41 touches in this match, that is just 6% of Arsenal’s total. Hazard on the other hand had 80 touches and 13% of Chelsea’s total.
Looking at shots it was 0 vs 3.
Chances created it was 1 vs 5.
Final third passes it was 13 vs 22.
Passes completed in the box it was 2 vs 7.
Dribbles it was 2 vs 5.
Offense Value Added it was -0.18 vs 1.14.
The Arsenal performance certainly wasn’t Özil’s fault but he really didn’t do anything to raise his game to cover for the other bad performances on the pitch. You can make a lot of the same arguments about Hazard and Chelsea in the first 30 minutes of the match before he finally was able to get the better of poor Ainsley Maitland-Niles in one on one situations that he was repeatedly put into.
What this match showed was that this team, either the tactics, the other players, other things or more likely a combination of all of this are no longer built to maximize Özil like they were under Arsene Wenger.
With Özil on a contract that few if any teams would be willing to meet Arsenal are in a very tough situation moving forward where they have to make a decision on how to lessen the pain of the current situation.
The way I see it there are three options and none of them are great. The first is to offload Özil to another team, either taking a massive hit to subsdize his wages in either a transfer or a loan. The second is to adjust the teams tactics to give Özil free reign and hope that this was just a blip and not a major age related talent decline. Finally keep in him in the team on his massive wages and just use him sparingly.
I don’t envy having to make the decision on how to deal with the situation and whatever happens it will be sure to be one of the major talking points for as long as Özil is with Arsenal.