Despite losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Arsenal‘s effort was undeniably impressive, with Mesut Ozil‘s work rate a stand out point.
The disappointing result had many factors — the sending off, Kieran Gibb‘s injury and Ozil’s poorly executed penalty attempt. But, Arsene Wenger‘s 10 remaining men put in a sterling effort to keep the score at just 1-0 for so long and even 2-0 was realistically not so disastrous, after having watched Bayern played with 78 percent of the possession — the majority in Arsenal’s own half.
Perhaps you will argue that this is a pointless matter and that effort is something that should be expected anyway. I agree with that. But a lot has been said in recent weeks regarding Ozil’s efforts. Claims have been splashed that he has gone off the boil not just in performance, but in physicality and work rate. It’s a pressing matter with English football fans.
But Ozil’s stats against Bayern answer those claims. Out of both sets of teams, Ozil had the third best distance covered with 11.69 km. Arsenal obviously had a lot of running to do as they chased Bayern’s dominance all night. But Ozil out ran the rest of his team and the average by over nearly 2km (average of 10.08 km). Only Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere, two players noted for their work rate, ran further out of both sets of players.
It certainly rules out the claims that Ozil doesn’t put a shift in. It isn’t obvious that Ozil exerts too much energy with his impressively controlled dribbling and stable balance, meaning he always looks almost not at full throttle — compared to others. He also is one of those to sprint around from player to player. But the stats are there, and for work rate they tell a big part of the story.