As the hoopla dies down gradually over Mesut Ozil‘s storied arrival at Arsenal during the beginning of the season in a dramatic deadline day acquisition, the player continues to be held in high esteem by the man who matters the most at the north London club – manager Arsene Wenger.
Ozil’s importance to the team in the eyes of Wenger was clearly evident yesterday when many expected the player to be removed during the second half for Tomas Rosicky, but it was young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain instead who came off. The German sensation (who is not doing his reputation any favors due to the criticism he is garnering with alarming regularity) had missed a crucial penalty against Pep Guardiola‘s Bayern Munich during the first leg of the Champions League knockout match at the Emirates and was frequently found wanting in defense while his teammates fought to protect the scoreline.
While Ozil’s performance drew ire from fans and fellow player Mathieu Flamini, his manager held faith in him and that underlines the expectations Wenger holds for the midfielder. Ozil vindicated himself against Liverpool with a brilliant outing in an FA Cup match last week, helping Arsenal knock out Brendan Rodgers‘ team, and he started well against Bayern only to wilt considerably once Manuel Neuer succeeded in saving his penalty attempt.
A player of his caliber should not let crucial missed opportunities have such a profound affect during a match of such significance and should in fact let passion and commitment overcome any negative emotions.
Ozil still holds the responsibility to lead his team forward to a strong finish in the close Premier League title race, the FA Cup and the crucial second leg in Munich next month. Wenger has continued to stand by his trump card through all the condemnation from fans and pundits alike, and Ozil needs to justify this faith by raising himself to the occasion.
Arsenal’s season is about to collide with another tough month of monster fixtures, and Ozil needs to stamp his authority on the team’s performances. The time has come to prove his worth again (after his brilliant start with the club) to his fellow teammates, fans and most importantly to Wenger — the man who still hopes to build the entire team around him.