Arsene Wenger: 'I want 10 goals from Mesut Ozil this season,' says Arsenal manager

German playmaker 'doesn't take enough chances'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Elusiveness is one of Mesut Ozil’s great football qualities, but his play can be so subtle that it counts against him, leaving him short-changed when praise and accolades are distributed at the end of a season or match.

That might well have been the case on Sunday afternoon, when Arsene Wenger assessed how his side got their season underway, one week on from their infuriating defeat at home to West Ham United. Olivier Giroud had scored a bicycle kick – not exactly his usual style – while Alexis Sanchez made his first start of the season, winning the game with an athletic header.

But Wenger, perhaps mindful of Ozil’s low-key brilliance, directed his most enthusiastic praise to the £42million man from Gelsenkirchen. “It was a very good performance,” Wenger said. “It is a pleasure to watch the quality of his passing, and the intelligence of his passing. In the build-up of the game, he was absolutely magnificent. He works harder than many people think he does.”

Wenger also spoke about Ozil’s new habit of running in behind, helping to stretch the play in a way that Arsenal might lack when neither Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nor Theo Walcott is on the pitch. “He made many runs without the ball, behind the defenders, which I like,” Wenger said. “That is a bit new because he likes to come to the ball. But he mixed up his game better.”

It was certainly a top-level Ozil performance, of the type that makes you wonder why he does not to this every week, and, if he did, how good it would make Arsenal. If the previous Sunday, when Ozil struggled to out-manouevre Reece Oxford, showed how frustrating he can be, then Selhurst Park one week later was the opposite. This was a display of intelligence, skill and timing that few other players in the Premier League could have delivered.

GettyImages-484215748.jpg
Arsene Wenger at Selhurst Park on Sunday

The challenge now for Ozil is to take his game to the next level, the level of midfielders like David Silva and Yaya Toure, who joined the Premier League at a similar age and have guided Manchester City to the 2012 and 2014 titles. Wenger said on Sunday that he must score more goals, as he did with more force before the Community Shield.

“I want more goals from Mesut, because he plays in the position and he is a good finisher,” Wenger said three weeks ago at the Emirates Stadium. “But he doesn’t take enough chances when he is in a position where he can finish. He is conscious of it and wants to do it now. His main aspect will always be the intelligence of his passing, but we want 10 goals per season from him.”

That is the challenge, although, the signs are there that, in his third year in England, Ozil is starting to impose himself on the game. “He shows more authority to dictate the game than before, he has added some steel,”Wenger said before the season began. “I am confident that he can be one of the great players of 2015-16.”

Comments